State Briefs 4/7/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Child's beating alarms chief

WASHINGTON, Ill. - The Washington police chief is searching for answers after a man was arrested for kicking a 3-year-old boy in the genitals and slapping him in the face.

"In my 23 years of law enforcement, this case ranks among the worst in terms of the injuries suffered by a child this age," Washington Police Chief Jim Kuchenbecker said Sunday. "What could a 3-year-old possibly do to cause an adult to do that to a child?"

Timothy G. Johnston, 22, was charged Friday with aggravated battery to a child and a misdemeanor domestic battery. He's being held in the Tazewell County Jail on a $100,000 bond, and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The alleged incident took place about 5:45 p.m. March 28 at Johnston's home. The boy's mother and the youth also live there. Johnston, who is not the boy's father, was watching the boy while the mother was away.

Kuchenbecker said when the boy arrived for preschool, staff members there noticed the boy had facial injuries and notified the Department of Children and Family Services.

Johnston first denied causing the boy's injuries, then he told police the boy suffered the injuries when he fell down stairs on his stomach at home. Johnson then told police he accidentally kicked the boy while they were playing soccer.

Medical professionals contradicted that claim, as did the boy.

"For a 3-year-old, this young man has been a great witness," the chief said. "He described and demonstrated exactly what happened to him."

Journal Star, Peoria

Peoria teens arrested for alleged theft of pizza

PEORIA - Police arrested two Peoria teenagers Thursday for allegedly robbing a Pizza Hut delivery driver last month at a vacant South Peoria house.

Purvis E. Miles, 17, of and Jovon S. Simmons, 17, of were each booked into the Peoria County Jail on a charge of robbery.

The victim, 28, was delivering pizzas about 9:30 p.m. March 23 when a man wearing a red bandana over his face grabbed him and pulled him inside the house. There, between four and five men took turns beating him before stealing the pizza pies, valued at $100, and about $35 cash.

Journal Star, Peoria

Couple indicted in statewide robbery spree

PEORIA - A Chicago couple on a statewide robbery spree was indicted recently on charges they allegedly tried to hold up a Family Video store in Peoria.

A Peoria County grand jury indicted Michelle M. Wright, 24, and Brian J. Fitzwilliam, 28, both of Chicago, with two counts of attempted aggravated robbery; felonies that could send them to prison for up to seven years.

Assistant State's Attorney Steve Pattelli said the two tried to hold up the store on March 1 but were scared off and ran away. They were later arrested in Chicago after being fingered for several other heists, all at Family Video. The alleged heists occurred in Chicago and Normal, among other places.

A $75,000 warrant was issued for the two who are in custody in Cook County.

A court date for them to appear in Peoria County Circuit Court has not yet been set.

Journal Star, Peoria

Man charged in deaths of two women

FREEPORT – A man accused of two murders over the weekend was arrested Sunday.

Freeport police found Louie Rose, 47, and Josie Pena, 18, both of Freeport, early Sunday morning. Rose was Pena’s mother, and their bodies were discovered at two separate locations in Freeport.

Authorities say the murders were reported at around 8:25 a.m. Sunday, and that they likely occurred within two hours prior to that time.

Melvin Parks, Jr., 37, of Freeport, was arrested in Rockford at around 3:30 p.m. Sunday and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Police were alerted to the crimes when a woman approached a patrol officer at around 8:25 a.m. Sunday, said Freeport Deputy Police Chief Robert Smith.

The woman, who turned out to be Rose’s daughter and Pena’s sister, told the officer that her boyfriend, Parks, had killed her mother and sister. Police then investigated the woman’s claims, and the victims were found deceased at the two residences in Freeport, Smith said.

Freeport Journal-Standard

College student will challenge Bomke

SPRINGFIELD – John Devine, a 22-year-old college senior from Athens, is running as a Democratic candidate for state Senate against incumbent Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield.

Devine was a write-in candidate for the post in the Democratic Primary on Feb. 5, but didn't get the necessary 1,000 votes that would have put him on the Nov. 4 ballot.

However, Devine said today, Democratic county chairs from Sangamon, Menard and Logan counties met this weekend and formalized his nomination to the seat.

“With my name on the ballot, it gives me a lot more of a chance to get support and actually be a strong challenger,” Devine said.

He said he would run on issues “that are important to people,” including infrastructure improvements and bringing “more jobs to Sangamon County.”

A native of Woodbridge, Va., Devine expects to graduate in May in political studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield. He said he hopes to have several town hall meetings and also to go door to door to meet voters.

Bomke and Devine met at last summer's State Fair Parade.

“I wish him the very best,” Bomke said. “He seems like a nice young man.”

State Journal-Register