Crime and Court Roundup: Beloit man arrested for disorderly conduct on school groundsWisconsin News
-- A 58-year-old Beloit man told police he was trying to test the security system at an elementary school, when he tried forcing his way through a locked side door – and was arrested.
A 58-year-old Beloit man told police he was trying to test the security system at an elementary school, when he tried forcing his way through a locked side door – and was arrested. The suspect was not armed, and no one was hurt. The incident occurred yesterday at Converse Elementary in Beloit, four days after the Connecticut school shootings. The man faces possible charges of disorderly conduct and violating a previous probation. According to authorities, a teacher saw the man – who was wearing camouflage – trying to open a side door. And the teacher then told a nearby kindergartener that students should never open outside doors for anyone. The teacher then cleared the hallway and told office personnel about the man. Beloit Schools lock their outside doors during the day except for the front entrances, which are monitored. Meanwhile, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has called for armed tactical officers to be placed in every school and public place in the nation. Clarke wrote a commentary which was posted on the “Tea Party Perspective” Web site. He also criticized new gun control proposals in the aftermath of the Connecticut tragedy. Clarke accused of liberals of using tragedy to quote, “take our rights away.”
An Eau Claire man convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl has been granted a new trial. The state’s Third District Appeals Court in Wausau ruled yesterday that Paul Thornton should have been allowed to call two witnesses in his original trial who would have vouched for his honesty. The appellate judges said the case came down to a credibility contest between Thornton and his alleged victim. And prosecutors did not prove that Thornton’s jury would have found him guilty if his witnesses had been allowed to testify. Thornton is now 32. He was convicted in late of 2010 of first-degree sexual assault of a child under 13. Online court records show that Thornton spent most of 2011 in jail before he was released last October to a community transition monitoring program.
A Milwaukee attorney for over a half-century has been disbarred. The State Supreme Court has revoked the law license of 77-year-old Joseph Weigel. The state’s Office of Lawyer Regulation said Weigel ran his law firm’s trust account for clients like a Ponzi scheme – in which millions-of-dollars flowed through, and damage awards in new cases were used to make overdue payments to clients in older cases. And experts who assisted Weigel’s attorneys in cases often never got paid. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Weigel has been investigated in various regulatory matters since at least mid-2006. The Office of Lawyer Regulation called in a Madison attorney to handle those cases, because Weigel’s son is a top official of the agency – and the state wanted to avoid a conflict-of-interest. The Supreme Court said Weigel’s office must start a new trust fund, and place all future trust receipts into that fund to make sure people get paid. Weigel’s disbarment takes effect in February, and he won’t be able to re-apply for his law license for at least the next five years.
A northern Wisconsin woman is about to get a new attorney on charges of making and delivering heroin – and she’s waiting to find out if she’ll be charged in a drug-related death. Authorities have named 26-year-old Jennifer Heiting of Saint Germain in the apparent drug overdose death of a man from the town of Crescent last week. Investigators are still waiting for toxicology test results on the man. In the meantime, public defender John Voorhees says he has a conflict-of-interest representing Heiting, and his office is looking for another lawyer for the case. Oneida County Circuit Judge Patrick O’Melia turned down Voorhees’ request to reduce Heiting’s 10-thousand-dollar cash bond on two felony charges of delivering heroin, a felony count of narcotics possession, and both felony and misdemeanor counts of bail jumping. She’s also charged in a retail theft case from September.
A key witness will testify today in the Milwaukee trial of three men charged with killing a driver in an apparent car-jacking attempt. 27-year-old Steven Hopgood, 21-year-old Laquan Riley, and 20-year-old George Taylor are accused in the shooting death of 25-year-old Vincent Cort. It happened in June of 2010, while Cort’s bright orange 1989 Olds Delta-88 was parked in the lot of a Milwaukee liquor store. The murder went unsolved for almost two years before Paris Saffold spilled the beans to police officers who arrested him for possessing crack cocaine. He’s expected to testify today, and defense lawyers have told the jury that Saffold will merely try to frame the defendants to help him get out of his own criminal case. Saffold told officers that he overheard the three talk about confronting Cort when his vehicle pulled in. He said Riley suggested carjacking the vehicle, and Hopgood said he wanted the rims from the car. Saffold told police that Riley then walked up to the vehicle and shot the driver. Cort managed to drive to a hospital, where he died. The witness said Cort had seen Taylor get shot two years ago. Prosecutors said it was actually Cort’s twin brother who was driving the vehicle that day – and the three killed an innocent man.