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STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Trial set for Wausau woman accused of poisoning a dog

It appears that a Wausau woman will go on trial for allegedly poisoning and stabbing her ex-boyfriend’s dog to death. Marathon County prosecutors could not reach a plea deal this week with 21-year-old Sean Janas. So a four-day trial is set to begin July 29th, with pre-trial issues to be settled on Monday. Janas is facing a pair of felony charges for poisoning and mistreating an animal, plus a misdemeanor count of obstructing police. Her trial was originally planned for May, but Janas fired her previous attorney in March. Prosecutors said she forced her ex-boyfriend’s Shepherd-Labrador mix to drink bleach, and then stabbed the pet several times. Officials said Janas also kept a diary in which she described how she liked watching the pet suffer. The case attracted a worldwide following on social media, as animal rights supporters called for the maximum penalty of five years in prison plus 30-thousand dollars in fines. Janas will also face a trial at the same time on two unrelated retail theft charges. 


Folks in northwest Wisconsin will get relief tonight from a heat wave that’s been around since last weekend. The rest of us, though, will have to wait until tomorrow night for things to cool down. The National Weather Service says a cold front will arrive this evening in northwest Wisconsin, and will sweep southward across the state tomorrow. Until then, afternoon highs in the 90’s and heat indices in the 100’s will continue to be the norm. Boscobel in Grant County had the week’s highest heat index yesterday at 109. Green Bay set a new record yesterday for the warmest overnight low for the date at 75. Milwaukee and Wausau tied similar records. Madison had just under an inch of rain in a half-hour late yesterday afternoon. Spotty thunderstorms are in the forecast statewide for today. Rusty Kapela of the Weather Service calls this a normal summer heat wave – nothing like the gripping heat of a year ago, when it was in the 90’s for over 20 days. Still, officials say folks should not brush this off. Milwaukee officials urge people to check on neighbors who are elderly or live alone – don’t leave kids and pets alone in a hot car – and find public places to cool down if necessary. Heat advisories continue until nine tonight in northwest Wisconsin, until five p-m tomorrow in central and northeast areas, and until seven tomorrow night in the rest of the state. 


Three former Wisconsinties were nominated this morning for T-V’s Emmy Awards – Steve Levitan, Mark Samels, and Richard Dahm. All three have been nominated in the past, and we’ll find out September 22nd if they win. Levitan, a former Madison T-V anchor and U-W graduate, is the creator of ABC’s “Modern Family” which won the Outstanding Comedy Series award a year ago. The show was nominated again for that Emmy, plus a dozen others. Levitan also shared last year’s award for the best writing in a comedy. Samels, a Shawano native, received a pair of nominations for helping produce the PBS series “American Experience.” He could get awards for two episodes – “The Abolitionists,” and “Death and the Civil War.” Samels has been nominated 11 times previously. Dahm was nominated as part of the writers for “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. The Waukesha native received the same bid in 2012. Also, there were Emmy nominations for shows about Wisconsin. Matt Damon and Michael Douglas received best actor nods for their roles in “Behind the Candelabra,” the story of piano performer and West Milwaukee native Liberace. The show received a total of 15 nominations. Finally, the HBO documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa” was given five nominations. It was about sexual abuse by priests at Saint John’s School-for-the-Deaf in suburban Milwaukee. 


John Spooner wants to talk to his jury without having to be questioned by attorneys. The unusual request came this morning, in what could be the final day of his trial for killing his 13-year-old neighbor Darius Simmons last year over missing guns. The 76-year-old Spooner chose not to answer questions when he had the chance yesterday, before his jury rejected a lesser conviction and found him guilty of first-degree intentional homicide. A second phase of the trial began, to determine if Spooner was sane at the time he shot Simmons. Before that testimony resumed this morning, Judge Jeffrey Wagner asked Spooner if wanted to waive his right to testify. His lawyer was not planning to call him to the stand, but Spooner told the judge he wanted to speak to jurors before the trial ended and quote, “I’ll hold it down to 15 minutes.” His legal team quickly huddled with him – and when some of the conversation could be heard by others, the conference moved to the judge’s chambers. Psychiatrists on both sides who examined Spooner are expected to testify today. The jury will decide if Spooner ends up in a mental institution or in prison, depending on whether he was sane-or-not. 


It’s way too hot in many Wisconsin buildings – including the Milwaukee County Courthouse, which cannot use all of its air conditioning due to the recent electrical fire. Yesterday, a sheriff’s deputy in a courtroom went to a doctor after feeling faint. Another deputy on security detail asked to be relieved for a short time, so he could get water to cool down. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin said deputies must still wear their bullet-proof vests and other gear in the heat. Clerk-of-Court John Barrett said two of his staffers soaked their feet in ice-water while they worked. By yesterday afternoon, officials said more air conditioning was able to be provided. The courthouse and its adjoining safety building have been using portable generators while repairs continue from the electrical fire. Elsewhere, a number of Wisconsin hospitals report at least some heat-related illnesses. Many were for dehydration and dizziness. The heat wave is expected to continue for one more day in northwest Wisconsin, and two more days in the rest of the state with highs in the 90’s and heat indices of up to 105. 


Milwaukee County has now confirmed 20 cases of Legionnaire’s disease in the last month-and-a-half. Nobody has died – but of the 14 cases in the city of Milwaukee, four patients remain hospitalized. All but six of the 20 involved people with underlying health issues. Officials said the first case was reported June first, but there was not a hint of an outbreak until the July Fourth weekend when a cluster of cases was confirmed. Legionnaire’s disease is a severe pneumonia caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist – either by drinking it, or breathing it in. Milwaukee officials say it can be treated quickly with antibiotics, but death can result in those who are not treated. The disease kills up to 30-percent of those who get infected. Legionnaire’s gets its name from the first known outbreak of the disease at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976. Wisconsin records an average of around 50 cases a year. The last notable outbreak was in 2010, when eight people got sick breathing mist from a decorative wall of water at a hospital in Cudahy. 


Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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