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Morning State News Briefs: Raw milk supports gather for trial in Baraboo

BARABOO - Hundreds of raw milk supporters from throughout the country are expected to converge on Baraboo next week for the trial of a dairy farmer charged with illegally selling unpasteurized milk.

Barring a last-minute plea deal, Vernon Hershberger of Loganville will face a week-long trial on four misdemeanor charges filed in late 2011. They're for not having licenses for milk production, dairy plants, and a retail eatery - plus violating an order to hold food after a raid on his farm. The state says raw milk is banned by law, and that's why Hershberger is charged. The defendant says there's no licensing requirement in existence for raw milk, and therefore it should be okay for him to sell it.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says national raw milk supporters have rented Baraboo's Al Ringling Theater. They plan to monitor the court case, and hold a rally that features 2004 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik. Raw milk supporters insist that their product is safe, and it contains numerous health benefits. State officials say raw milk contains bacteria that can cause food-borne diseases - and they say that even a small outbreak would threaten Wisconsin's world-famous dairy industry. A final pre-trial hearing in the Hershberger case is set for Friday in Sauk County. Jury selection is set for next Monday. The trial is scheduled to run for a week.


Two people were killed in a pair of house fires in Wisconsin yesterday. In southwest Wisconsin, 76-year-old George Faber died in is burned-out mobile home in Coon Valley in Vernon County. Authorities are trying to figure out how-and-why it started. In Milwaukee, one person was found dead after an apartment blaze on the city's north side. Officials said the fire was confined to a unit on the third floor. The cause was not known. A smoke detector was sounding when fire-fighters arrived.


A half-million-dollar bond was set yesterday for a Racine County man charged in the death of his girlfriend's three-year-old son. Prosecutors said 26-year-old Marcus Johnson punched Hunter Wise in the mouth, whipped him, and burned him because the child defecated in his pants. Johnson was caring for Hunter and two other children when the incident was reported last Friday. The victim's mother was working at the time. Johnson is charged with first-degree intentional homicide. A preliminary hearing is set for May 22nd, when a judge is expected to decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.


Wade Michael Page was getting more radical with his white supremist views in the months before he killed six worshippers at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. That's according to an FBI search warrant that was recently unsealed. The affidavit was filed several days after the shooting massacre last August. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said it was filed so the FBI could search Page's computers and social media contacts. The records did not say what was found. They did cite evidence that Page was connected to a number of white-power organizations. However, the FBI later found no conspiracy behind the Sikh Temple shootings. Agents said Page acted alone when he killed the worshippers, wounded four other people, and then killed himself. FBI spokesman Leonard Peace says many questions remain unanswered - including why he targeted the Sikh Temple. Peace said Page took many of those answers to his grave.


A seven-year-old Milwaukee boy says the nation would be safer if guns had chocolate bullets - and Vice President Joe Biden agrees. Biden sent a handwritten letter to Myles Nelson, after the second-grader at Milwaukee's Downtown Montessori Academy wrote to Biden, President Obama, and Congresswoman Gwen Moore last December. It was right after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut. Myles told his school's reading specialist, Barbara Rankin, about his idea - and she encouraged him to tell people who could do something about it. Moore sent him a form letter with a short personal note. Biden personally handwrote his response on official vice presidential stationery - and it arrived at the school yesterday. Biden said he was sorry it took so long for him to respond. He continued, quote, "I really like your idea. If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate. You are a good boy."


Authorities in north-central Wisconsin plan to say more today about the arrest of a Merrill area man in the death of his wife. Lincoln County sheriff's deputies said they identified human remains found near Medford last Friday as those of 48-year-old Anita Bucki. Her 49-year-old husband, Mark Bucki of the town of Corning, was arrested yesterday on possible charges of first-or-second degree intentional homicide. He first reported Anita missing on April 26th. At the time, officers quoted him as saying that he and his wife stayed up late to talk - and his wife was gone the next morning. A long-time friend of Anita's told reporters last week that the couple was living separately for over a month, and they were going to get a divorce. Online court records did not show that a divorce case had been started.


Milwaukee's Fire-and-Police Commission said officers did nothing wrong when they arrested a mentally ill man who died two days later. Commission director Michael Tobin said there's no evidence that officers used excessive force, and no policies were violated in connection with the death of 30-year-old John Kriewaldt. Staff members at Kriewaldt's group home called police last July, saying he was assaulting them. When officers arrived, investigators said Kriewaldt slapped one of them in the forehead. The officers then placed Kriewaldt on the ground, handcuffed him, and put him into a squad car - where he hurt his head on a metal divider. Paramedics were treating the suspect's head cuts when he stopped breathing. He never regained consciousness, and he died two days after the arrest.