WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Lincoln County man to be sentenced today to life in prison
A north central Wisconsin man will be sentenced to life in prison this morning, for killing his estranged wife and dumping her body in a swamp. The only real question is whether Judge Jay Tlusty will make 50-year-old Mark Bucki eligible for a supervised release once he serves at least 20 years behind bars. A Lincoln County jury convicted Bucki in mid-April in the death of his 48-year-old wife Anita in April of 2013. The defense claimed that Mark had nothing to do with the stabbing and strangling of his wife, and there was no physical evidence which tied him to her death. Prosecutors said there was plenty of circumstantial evidence which pointed to the couple's finances, and Anita's 150-thousand dollar life insurance policy. The state also said there were no defensive wounds on her body, apparently showing that she knew her killer. Mark Bucki was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse, and strangulation-and-suffocation.
The state Justice Department says it will file an appeal soon to Federal Judge Barbara Crabb's decision that Wisconsin's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck also reaffirmed the attorney general's contention that the same-sex marriages performed in the state last month are "uncertain." J-B Van Hollen still contends that county clerks did not have the authority to issue close to 600 same-sex marriage licenses in the days after Crabb's ruling -- which she later put on hold while it's being appealed. Yesterday, the A-C-L-U said it would file a lawsuit to try-and-validate the Wisconsin marriages, if the state presses the issue in the federal appeals court. Molly Collins of A-C-L-U said the state's refusal to recognize the same-sex marriages violates the couples' due-process rights to stay married. The A-C-L-U is the main plaintiff in a suit that seeks to strike down the 2006 state constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.
A Shawano man was killed when he was hit by a pick-up truck while walking on a county road. Shawano County authorities said the driver escaped injury. The incident occurred about 4:30 yesterday afternoon on County Trunk "K" in the town of Waukechon. It remains under investigation.
Steven Zelich is due in court this morning. He's the former West Allis police officer accused of dumping two suitcases that contained the remains of women he's suspected of killing. A preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 o'clock in Walworth County Circuit Court. A judge will decide if there's enough evidence to put the 52-year-old Zelich on trial on two felony counts of hiding corpses. Authorities have said Zelich met his victims online, killed them the first time he saw them in person, then held onto their remains for months before dumping them in separate suitcases. They were found June 5th along a grassy road near Lake Geneva. Prosecutors have said that Zelich would face homicide charges in the places the women were killed. Police said 37-year-old Laura Simonson was murdered in a Rochester Minnesota hotel room last November -- and 19-year-old Jenny Gamez of the state of Oregon was killed in 2012-or-'13 in Kenosha.
All sides in the John Doe probe into the state's recall elections will have two more weeks to recommend which documents should be unsealed. Prosecutors, a target of the probe, and two undisclosed parties have been poring over three-thousand pages of secret records, after 266 pages were released in June. Today was the deadline to finish the new review, but Federal Judge Rudolph Randa extended it to July 17th. Five media groups asked Randa to release all the documents in the John Doe. Prosecutors have asked for the same thing, saying the need for secrecy no longer exists. The Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the targets, says its proprietary data should be kept under wraps. The undisclosed parties said the previous release of records was unfair to Governor Scott Walker and others -- and they want all the files kept secret. Judge Randa halted the two-year-old John Doe probe in May, saying prosecutors violated the Club for Growth's free speech rights by keeping the group quiet. In the previous document release, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz put out a theory that Walker and two other G-O-P operatives headed an illegal coordinated effort to win his and other recall elections, with the help of 12 outside groups. Walker insists he has done nothing wrong. An attorney for Schmitz later made it was clear that the governor himself is not being targeted.
The pilot of an ultra-light plane was killed last night in a crash in eastern Wisconsin. It happened about 7:15 west of Omro in Winnebago County. The F-A-A and sheriff's officials said the pilot was the only person in the craft when it went down in a hay-field in the town of Poygan. It was said to be close to a remote air strip. Officials could not immediately say where the ultra-light took off from, or where it was going. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
Skeletal remains found near Rhinelander are those of a convicted arsonist whom state parole officials have been trying to find for 14 months. The body of 54-year-old Steven Boron of Oneida County was found Monday by a person walking in a wooded area near Lake Julia, about five miles south of Rhinelander. He was identified yesterday with the help of dental records from the state Corrections' Department. Oneida County chief deputy Dan Hess said Boron was released from prison and failed to report to his parole agent. Hess said the man was most likely dead for more than a year. He was not reported missing. Foul play is not suspected, but a cause of Boron's death has not been determined. Investigators are still waiting for toxicology test results on the remains.
Authorities in Oshkosh are looking for a man who's charged in a drug overdose death from 2012. An arrest warrant is out for 25-year-old Patrick Schreck, who's charged with first-degree reckless homicide. According to authorities, Schreck bragged to a jail inmate in Oshkosh that he sold the best heroin in the area, and it killed five people. Investigators interviewed him about that last year -- and it resulted in a new charge for the overdose death of 44-year-old Stephen Hidde of Appleton.
A rural central Wisconsin family would love to know who stopped to save them from their burning house yesterday. A passing motorist never identified himself when he saw flames going through the roof of Ron and Julie Cooper's house south of Colby on Highway 13. Julie and two of her grandchildren were sleeping at the time. Thirteen-year-old McKayla Cooper told a reporter that the Good Samaritan knocked on the door and woke her grandmother up. Next thing she knew, grandma was yelling to get McKayla and her brother out of the house. Four fire departments and sheriff's officers from Clark and Marathon counties responded. The home was a total loss with fire and water damage. The cause remains under investigation.