NEWS

State Briefs 6/12/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

U of I to offer videoconferences for military families

SPRINGFIELD – Dozens of Illinois families will have the chance to visit face-to-face with their soldiers in Iraq Wednesday and Thursday, July 9-10, by way of the University of Illinois Extension’s videoconferencing system at the Illinois Extension Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Soldiers at Al Asad Airbase (Air Force), Camp Taji/Cooke (Army), Camp Fallujah, Camp Taqaddum and Camp Victory will be able to see and talk with family members in private 30-minute “See Your Soldier” sessions hosted by U of I Extension offices in 16 communities. There is no charge to participate.

Families must register online at www.seeyoursoldier.uiuc.edu no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, to be eligible for a time slot. Reservations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.

The live audio/video linkages are being offered in collaboration with the Freedom Calls Foundation, which provides the videoconferencing equipment and satellite connection in Iraq.

When a family has registered, the military will alert the service member about the opportunity and time and date of the Internet transmission. If the soldier’s duty schedule can accommodate the visit, family members will be assigned a time for their 30-minute session.

State Journal-Register

Man dies after driving into strip pit

MARION - A 68-year-old Herrin man is dead as the result of a single vehicle accident Tuesday.

James L. Stacy was pronounced dead at 11:15 p.m. by Williamson County Coroner Mike “Junior” Burke.

The accident happened on Crenshaw Road east of Decatur Road. Stacy was traveling west on Crenshaw Road when his vehicle left the road and went into a strip cut. The accident happened sometime Tuesday morning and Stacy was discovered by family members looking for him.

The vehicle was completely submerged and the Williamson County Dive Team was called to locate the vehicle.

The accident is under investigation by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department, The Marion Police Department and the Williamson County Coroner’s office.

Marion Daily Republican

Peoria man sentenced to life for beating woman to death in 2006

EUREKA - A 26-year-old Peoria man, found guilty in March of beating an 18-year-old Peoria woman to death, was sentenced Wednesday morning to life in prison without parole.

Hershel Morgan appeared at the Woodford County courthouse wearing a green prison uniform with handcuffs and ankle shackles and sat relatively unfazed during his nearly three-hour sentencing hearing for the killing of Jessica Curless.

Circuit Judge John B. Huschen said the case, with its raw emotions and at times gruesome details, left him at a loss for words. Although disagreeing with prosecutors who called Morgan "evil incarnate," Huschen nonetheless stated, "Your behavior is despicable."

"I do hope in some small measure, some healing will begin today," he said to the victim's family.

 Calling him a "one man crime wave," Special Prosecutor Michael Vujovich of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor's Office argued the Peoria resident had committed a string of violent crimes before the murder and constantly snubbed offers of help to turn his life around. The prosecution also introduced evidence of Morgan's involvement in two home invasions and a rape he committed in Woodford County as aggravating factors to be taken into account.

A jury found Morgan guilty March 24 on 10 counts of murder for beating Curless to death with a hammer and leaving her body in a patch of weeds near a vacant farmhouse north of Spring Bay. A farmer located her body March 3, 2006, nearly two months after her disappearance on Jan. 10, 2006.

Prosecutors said Morgan killed Curless to prevent her from helping authorities in a separate criminal investigation against him.

Journal Star, Peoria

Man who allegedly killed brother apparently tried to shoot another man

HENRY - A rural Henry man who is accused of murdering his older brother Tuesday also allegedly tried to shoot another man but failed because the gun jammed, Marshall County authorities said Wednesday.

After allegedly shooting Fred J. Pehm, 41, several times with a .22-caliber rifle, James J. "Jimmy" Pehm, 30, pointed the gun at Jerry Wright, a friend of Fred's who was sitting in a car nearby, said Sheriff Rob Russell.

Not until Wednesday morning did police find the pieces of the gun, which James Pehm apparently had thrown onto other parts of the property where the Pehms and their mother, Rosemary Pehm, have been living in mobile homes. The site is along Illinois Route 29 about 2 1/2 miles south of Henry.

There was an unspent cartridge still in the rifle, suggesting Wright also would have been shot if the gun had not jammed, Russell said.

Wright escaped from the scene, and neither he nor anyone else was injured.

An autopsy Wednesday showed Fred Pehm was shot five times, all from behind, said Coroner David Lenz Jr. Although the pathologist did not immediately provide a final determination on cause of death, the fatal wounds appeared to have been to a kidney and the pancreas, Lenz added.

James Pehm remained in the county jail Wednesday on $500,000 bond.

Journal Star, Peoria

Suspect in state park burglaries arrested

BRIMFIELD - Conservation police arrested a man this weekend suspected of committing a string of burglaries at Jubilee State Park and the Rock Island Trail.

Joshua L. Frye, 21, was in custody at the Peoria County Jail on Wednesday on charges of criminal damage to state-supported property and burglary to a motor vehicle. He was arrested about 5 p.m. Sunday at Jubilee State Park, after he allegedly broke into a vehicle.

Police are investigating whether Frye is responsible for a number of other vehicle burglaries that have occurred the past month and a half at the park and trail. Police have not released what had been stolen from the vehicles or how the burglar gained access to the vehicles.

Officers also are asking that anyone with information regarding these crimes contact the Illinois Conservation Police at (309) 383-2133.

Journal Star, Peoria