Morning State News Briefs: Waukesha judge rules stalking not a Constitutional rightWisconsin News
-- Stalking is not free expression under the U.S. Constitution. That’s what a state appeals court said, when it re-instated a felony charge against a 52-year-old Milwaukee man.
WAUKESHA - Stalking is not free expression under the U.S. Constitution. That’s what a state appeals court said, when it re-instated a felony charge against a 52-year-old Milwaukee man.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge James Kieffer had ruled that Wisconsin’s law against stalking was overly broad. And he dropped a 2009 charge against Gary Hemmingway, on the grounds that it violated the constitutional protection of free speech under the First Amendment. But the Second District Appellate Court in Waukesha disagreed. It said, quote, “The First Amendment does not protect intentional conduct designed to cause serious emotional distress, or fear of bodily harm or death in a targeted victim.” Hemmingway is once again facing accusations that he sent numerous threatening e-mails, text messages, and phone calls to his ex-wife. Among other things, they quoted Hemmingway as saying he would “blow her brains out” – and the only way she could feel his pain is if both her sons died at the same time. The appeals court said the speech itself is not against the law – but is against the law is quote, “the intentional course-of-conduct to inflict harm.”
Governor Scott Walker asked Wisconsin school students today to submit home-made ornaments for the tree to be displayed in the State Capitol during the holidays. He said the theme of this year’s tree will be “In Wisconsin” – with symbols of what it means to call the Badger State home. Schools have been informed about this, and the deadline to submit the ornaments is November 19th. For the second year in a row, the Republican Walker called the tree the “Capitol Christmas Tree” – even though it’s not the legal name for it. Legislators ordered in 1985 that it be called the “Holiday Tree.” Twenty-two years later, a bill to restore the old name failed to pass both houses of the Legislature. Today, Walker called it a Christmas Tree twice in a four-paragraph news release about the kids’ ornaments. He said the tree would go on display after Thanksgiving.
Four teenage boys face juvenile court action, for tying up two adults at their home in Lake Geneva. The boys are ages-13-to-16. Police said they busted into a home on Tuesday night and restrained the adults. One of them broke free and fled with two small children. They went to a gas station and called 911 – and when police arrived, the other victim was still tied up before being freed. Detectives are still investigating.
Two people have been charged with helping a Dane County man kill his autistic step-brother. Prosecutors said 28-year-old Robert McCumber of Mazomanie owned the land where Matthew Graville’s body was hidden and buried. And the victim’s stepmother, 49-year-old Laura Robar of Fort Atkinson, allegedly conspired to hide the body, and stole money and food stamps from Graville after he died. The step-brother, 28-year-old Jeffrey Vogelsberg, was arrested in Washington State this week. He faces extradition to Wisconsin on charges of homicide and hiding a corpse. McCumber is charged in Dane County with hiding a corpse, and Robar with two counts of identity theft. Both are being held under 100-thousand-dollar bonds – and both are due back in court next Tuesday for preliminary hearings. Authorities said Vogelsburg abused and tortured the 27-year-old Graville, placed his body in a freezer, and then buried him. The body was found in a five-foot-deep grave in a wooded area near Lone Rock. Vogelsburg was arrested at a military base where his wife works. Prosecutors said she knew about the crime. She has not been charged, but officials say more charges in the case are possible. WISC-TV in Madison said Robar was fired yesterday from a job at the Dane County Human Services department.
Two children were killed, and four other people went to a hospital after an overnight house fire in Racine. Authorities were told that four kids were trapped in a burning building around 12:45 this morning. Fire Chief Steve Hansen it took about 15 minutes to remove the youngsters, because security bars blocked windows in the children’s room – and home furnishings and heavy smoke blocked interior doorways. After the final child was removed, Hansen said at least four fire-fighters succumbed to heat exhaustion. The four kids and a man were taken by ambulance to a Racine hospital, where two of the youngsters died. A sixth victim showed up a short time later. Two of the youngsters ended up being transferred to Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. Units from the neighboring South Shore Fire Department treated the fire-fighters. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
The UW Board of Regents will talk about student veterans today – and how to provide better services to those people. The state approved a modern version of the “G.I. Bill” a few years ago which gives free tuition to eligible veterans. And UW officials say they’ve seen significant increases in the number of military veterans on their campuses. In addition, some have earned college credits while in the military – and many have gained leadership experience that can be valuable to their future employers. Among other things, the Regents will talk about ways to help veterans understand the benefits to which they’re entitled – and helping them re-adjust to civilian society.
A Milwaukee alderman held a public prayer vigil last night for a man who was beaten to death outside a night club last weekend. The vigil begins at 6:30 outside the Tropical Latino club, close to where 45-year-old Mariano Lopez was killed early Sunday. Relatives said Lopez and another man were leaving a birthday party when they were assaulted on the way to their car. One family member said the survivor got between his female and an out-of-control man at the club – and that’s why the attack occurred. Police did not have any suspects at last word. Alderman Jose Perez, who’s holding tonight’s vigil, called it a senseless tragedy – and he urged anyone with information to come forward so quote, “justice can be served.”
A Milwaukee freeway was closed for an-hour-and-a-half yesterday when a woman got into a fiery crash – and she then thought that her child was missing. It happened about 5:25 a.m. on the westbound lanes of Interstate-94, about two miles west of Milwaukee’s downtown. It turned out that the child was safe with a grandmother. But sheriff’s officials said the woman was confused right after the crash – and she thought her youngster had been traveling with her. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin said deputies had no choice but to close the freeway – because it was dark at the time, and there were concerns that the child was roaming on the pavement. The mother’s vehicle burst into flames, but she escaped with non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital.