State Briefs 6/4/08
Soldier posthumously awarded Bronze Star
ROCKFORD — U.S. Army Sgt. Blake Evans was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart Wednesday during a funeral Mass at St. Anthony’s Church.
Evans was killed May 25 while on patrol in the Al Jazeera Desert in Iraq when a vehicle he was in fell prey to an “improvised explosive device.” Two other soldiers from Evans’ platoon were seriously injured in the explosion.
The 2002 Guilford High School graduate’s flag-draped coffin was carried by U.S. Army soldiers into the church for the funeral Mass. Near the end of the service, the soldiers saluted his coffin one-by-one.
A brigadier general awarded the medals to members of Evans’ family.
A letter from Secretary of the Army Pete Geren was read during the service.
“(Sgt. Evans) was an example of what every American soldier strives to achieve,” it said.
Rockford Register Star
Contract worker killed in accident at Cat's Technical Center
MOSSVILLE - A contract worker performing services at Caterpillar's Mossville plant was killed in an accident at the facility Tuesday.
Kevin M. Fay, 44, of Metamora, was pronounced dead about 3:10 p.m. in the emergency room at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center after suffering injuries at Building E at the Caterpillar Technical Center, according to Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll.
The incident occurred about 2:30 p.m., and Caterpillar medical personnel treated Fay at the scene, according to a news release from Caterpillar.
No details of what Fay was doing were released Tuesday night, but Ingersoll said he was an employee of O'Brien Brothers Piping and was working at the building at the time.
Fay suffered chest injuries, and an autopsy scheduled for this morning will further define the extent of his injuries, she said.
Journal Star, Peoria
Nervous gunman slaps intended robbery victim
PEORIA - A Peoria resident was slapped across the face Monday night by a shaky-handed gunman attempting to rob her.
The 60-year-old victim told police that at about 11:20 p.m. she answered a knock at the door of her apartment. When she opened the door, a man standing there pointed a gun at her.
The gunman, who was wearing a bandana over his face, demanded money from her. Standing near him to the side were three other men also wearing bandanas, she told police.
When she didn't respond, the gunman slapped her across the face and ran away with his accomplices in tow. She was not injured.
The victim told police the gunman's hands were shaking as he pointed the gun at her.
The gun, she added, looked to be fake.
Journal Star, Peoria
Man gets 6 years in prison in holdup of newspaper carrier
PEORIA - A Peoria man was sentenced to six years in prison Tuesday for holding up a Journal Star newspaper carrier.
Justin Williams, 18, still has a chance to avoid the full prison sentence.
Circuit Judge Michael Brandt recommended Williams for Impact Incarceration, a form of boot camp. If Williams, who has no previous criminal history, is accepted into the 120-day or 180-day military-style program, he would avoid the prison sentence, although he would be required to fulfill two years of parole upon release.
Williams had pulled out a handgun and demanded money from Jim Rathbun, who was delivering papers.
Rathbun put his wallet, keys, a pocketknife and about $20 on the ground. Williams took the money and ran, but at some point, he fired his gun three times. Police believe he fired in the air.
Police were unable to find the gun or any shell casings. Williams was arrested shortly after the attack only a few blocks away.
Williams was eligible for supervised release, a form of probation, but after Brandt questioned him and saw a written statement he made that he "didn't do nothing wrong," despite pleading guilty, Brandt said he was perceived to be denying his guilt.
Journal Star, Peoria
Body identified as missing Lincoln man
LINCOLN - The body found in Salt Creek last week has been positively identified as Billy Ray Eskew.
Eskew, 18, of Lincoln disappeared May 13 during a camping trip with friends along the banks of Salt Creek.
A massive search turned up no trace until his body was recovered May 26 about two miles downstream from where he was last seen. A positive identification has been pending since then.
Autopsy results showed no sign of trauma, but an official cause of death has yet to be determined.
Detailed results including toxicology testing are expected to take several more weeks.
Woman arrested for making multiple 911 calls
BENTON – Tabitha A. Utley Artis, 27, of Benton was taken to the Franklin County Jail following a series of telephone calls she made to a 911 emergency service dispatcher on Friday.
According to the police report, the first call to dispatchers came at 1:45 a.m. last Friday, when Artis called 911 to report that her husband, Shawn D. Artis, 27, of Benton, had taken the keys to the car.
The dispatcher explained that was not a reason to call 911, and the call ended.
Another call to 911 came later from a neighbor who reported the couple was arguing in a yard. Benton police officers were advised that Shawn Artis was wanted on an outstanding Jefferson County arrest warrant. Officers took him into custody.
At approximately 3 a.m., Tabitha Artis again called 911 to ask why her husband had been arrested. The dispatcher informed her this was not an emergency call, and the call ended.
Between 3:02 a.m. and 3:20 a.m. Friday, Tabitha Artis called 911 three more times. Emergency dispatchers were also responding to a number of calls resulting from a power outage that occurred during storms.
Police Chief Mike O'Neill said officers went to the residence and arrested Tabitha Artis after the third 911 call on a charge of disorderly conduct.
Benton Evening News