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Iroquois County to fund handwriting expert in murder case

According to the Paxton Record, WATSEKA — Two handwriting experts are working independently to determine whether murder suspect Andrew M. Condon wrote a letter from jail to one of the prosecution’s witnesses, asking him to change his testimony.

Judge Gordon Lustfeldt entered an order in Iroquois County Circuit Court last week, appointing Warren Spencer to analyze the letter on behalf of the defense. Spencer will be paid a fee of up to $1,125, to be paid for by Iroquois County. Lustfeldt ordered that Spencer deliver his findings to the court in “a timely fashion.”

Meanwhile, State’s Attorney Jim Devine said Monday that he and Assistant State’s Attorney Alex O’Brien have hired their own independent handwriting expert.

“We’ve contacted the FBI to do an analysis of the handwriting on our behalf,” Devine said. “We’re still waiting on the results of that analysis.”

Condon, 35, of rural Ashkum, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the October 2012 fatal shooting of Jonathan D. Rubin, 27, of Danforth, at the Shell gas station in Gilman where Mr. Rubin worked.

Devine said in court last month that Condon wrote a letter from jail to one of the state’s witnesses, trying to persuade the witness to change his story. Condon has denied writing the letter.

Iroquois County will pay for the defense’s handwriting expert because Condon cannot afford to pay for one himself, according to court records. The county also will pay up to $5,000 for the defense to hire a video expert, who will compare the suspect seen on surveillance footage at the gas station to Condon.

Condon’s trial is set to begin on Feb. 2.

Judge declines to issue no-contact orders vs. Loda trustee

According to the Paxton Record, WATSEKA — An Iroquois County judge declined Monday to issue no-contact orders against a Loda village trustee.

Loda residents Richard and Sandy Coffey and J.R. and Regina Ptacek filed petitions on Nov. 14 seeking no-contact orders against Loda Trustee John Zalaker.

Judge James Kinzer dismissed the petitions Monday in Iroquois County Circuit Court after hearing arguments and witness statements.

The Coffeys and Ptaceks, who regularly attend the village board’s monthly meetings, claimed in their petitions that Zalaker threatened them in recent weeks, including during the Nov. 12 village board meeting.

Zalaker was charged with disorderly conduct for his involvement in a melee at the end of the meeting and has publicly apologized for losing his temper. Zalaker has been issued a Dec. 15 court date.

Frerichs replacement could be decided by next week

According to the News-Gazette, We may know by next week who will replace Mike Frerichs in the Illinois Senate.

The Champaign Democrat was recently elected state treasurer, and the Democratic party chairmen in Champaign and Vermilion Counties have been working to appoint his replacement.

Vermilion County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Wright said around a dozen people have approached him about the job, and he’s since narrowed that list down to six.  He said Champaign County Democratic Party chairman Al Klein has a list of his own.

Wright said he may have some news about finalists or the selection itself on Dec. 2.  He declined to mention names of people who are being considered.

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Kearney resigns after fives seasons as Cornjerker head coach

According to Just the Facts,  at Thursday’s school board meeting they accepted the resignation of head coach Michl Kearney effective, November 7th.  Kearney has been with the district for six years and head coach for five.  The program has seen major changes since he has been head coach including no Varsity team in 2012.  In 2013, they finished 0-7 and after co-op with Schlarman Academy in 2014 finished 1-7 overall.  Kearney put a lot of work into building the program.  At the time of print, Kearney nor administrators would comment on the resignation.

Hoopeston Area board approves levy, 2014 audit was clean

According to Just the Facts, Finances were a major topic of discussion at Thursday evening’s Hoopeston Area Board meeting.  The board unanimously approved a $3.1 million tax levy, up from $2.8 million last year, after a short public hearing on the issue.  Whether HA will actually receive that much will depend on the equalized assessed value (EAV) of the district, which, after dropping from $66 million to $61 million a couple years ago, has held steady, said Supt. Hank Hornbeck.  Next year’s EAV may give the levy a boost, Hornbeck said, since area wind farms will be included for the first time.  “Maybe we’ll have a different story then,” Hornbeck said.

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Hoopeston Police Department Report

Monday, November 24, 2014

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Grand Jury didn’t indict Police Office Darren Wilson

According to the News-Gazette, — A grand jury declined Monday to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked weeks of sometimes-violent protests and inflamed deep racial tensions between many African-Americans and police.
Moments after the announcement by St. Louis County’s top prosecutor, crowds began pouring into Ferguson streets to protest the decision. Some taunted police, broke windows and vandalized cars. Within a few hours, several buildings were ablaze, and frequent gunfire was heard. Officers used tear gas to try to disperse some of the gatherings.
Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch said the jury of nine whites and three blacks met on 25 separate days, hearing more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses, including three medical examiners and experts on blood, toxicology and firearms.

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Ford County Board to discuss ‘personnel issues’ Tuesday

According to the Paxton Record, The Ford County Board has called a special meeting for 4 p.m. Tuesday, November 25th, to discuss “personnel issues.”

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Iroquois County Sheriff’s Police Report

News Release
November 21, 2014

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The Following Preliminary Information is Being Released by Illinois State Police District 10:

WHAT: Traffic Crash (Personal injury) with lane blockage

WHERE: I-57 Northbound 605 feet south milepost 231

WHEN: 11/23/2014 at 6:17 pm

VEHICLES: Black 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

DRIVERS: Barnette, Jamon, S., age 20 from Chicago

PASSENGERS: Female 20 years old from Rockford
                          Female 19 years old from Chicago

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