State Briefs 7/30/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Woman gets 20 years for killing 91-year-old man

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield woman was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for killing a 91-year-old man in 2004.

Sheila Morris, 51, was initially charged with first-degree murder of a person over 60 and could have faced as much as 60 years in prison, agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for the 20-year sentence.

Friends and family hadn’t heard from Taylor for several days and called police on March 17, 2004, asking them to check his home. When officers arrived, they looked through the window and could see Taylor’s decomposing body sitting on the couch.

Springfield police detective Ryan Sims learned in August 2007 that Morris, who lived in Taylor’s neighborhood and who police suspected might have been involved, had been booked into the jail on a domestic battery charge.

Sims went to the jail and interviewed Morris over the course of four days, Sims testified at a preliminary hearing last year. During those interviews, Morris told police she had been drinking with Taylor on March 11 and was near the kitchen sink when she heard a rattle at the door.

She said she thought it might be her boyfriend, with whom she had a rocky relationship, and she panicked, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Taylor.

State Journal-Register

Methodists assign new bishop for Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – The Rev. Gregory Palmer, bishop for the Iowa Area of the United Methodist Church, has been assigned as bishop of the Illinois Area, effective Sept. 1.

Palmer succeeds the Rev. Sharon Brown Christopher, who is retiring after 20 years as bishop in Illinois and Minnesota.

A native of Philadelphia, Palmer is the son of a retired United Methodist pastor who still lives there. His late mother was a teacher in the Philadelphia public schools.

Palmer earned a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and a master of divinity degree from Duke University. He is serving a two-year term as president of the Council of Bishops, the United Methodist Church’s executive branch.

Brown Christopher announced her retirement last year.

A worship service to welcome Palmer is set for Sept. 28 at First United Methodist Church West in Springfield.

State Journal-Register

Peterbilt announces expansion of Rockford plant

ROCKFORD — Peterbilt Illinois is almost doubling the size of its Rockford facility.

The heavy- and medium-duty truck dealer will expand from 11,000 to 21,000 square feet. The project breaks ground Thursday and will take two to three months.

The company will add up to 30 jobs and get more office, display and service area. Peterbilt Illinois is a subsidiary of JX Enterprises, based in Waukesha, Wis.

JX Enterprises operates five dealerships under Peterbilt Illinois and six under Peterbilt Wisconsin.

Rockford Register Star

Man pleads guilty to multiple DUIs

BELVIDERE — A man with four previous drunken-driving convictions was found guilty Tuesday of three more cases of driving under the influence.

Jose Orozco-Ochoa was arrested Nov. 4, 2006; Dec. 30, 2006; and Aug. 18, 2007, Boone County State’s Attorney James Hursh said in a news release.

Orozco-Ochoa has been in the Boone County Jail since Aug. 21, 2007.

Hursh said a sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 13. Orozco-Ochoa is not eligible for probation.

The November 2006 conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The other two are punishable by up to 30 years each. Each of the sentences could run consecutively, Hursh said.

Rockford Register Star

Girl dies in apparent drowning

BENTON – A 7-year-old West Frankfort girl died Tuesday night, the victim of an apparent drowning.

The girl, Salena Hageman, was pronounced dead around 10:05 p.m. at Heartland Regional Hospital in Marion by Williamson County Coroner Junior Burke.

The victim, the daughter of Dawn Furlong, had been swimming in a pool located at a home on South Thompsonville Road.

Another child was in the pool at the time of the drowning, said Franklin County Sheriff's Department investigator Kevin Skurat, and the children were being supervised by the victim's mother.

"It appears to be  typical 'I turned my back for a second' kind of thing," Skurat said.

First responders attempted to perform CPR in an effort to resuscitate the girl. She was taken by ambulance to Heartland Regional but was pronounced dead two hours later.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was notified and will conduct an investigation into the drowning, which Skiurat said is standard in drowning accidents at private pools.

Benton Evening News

Goose causes brief power outage

HARRISBURG – There was a power outage affecting the south side of Harrisburg Tuesday evening believed caused by a goose at Harrisburg Township Park, according to Fire Chief Bill Summers.

The goose flew into a power line and was killed. The outage lasted only a moment, but caused some chaos for the fire department as two automatic alarms sounded at 7:43 p.m.

Saline County Central Dispatch advised the firefighters there had been a power surge in the area. Employees of Saline Care Center told firefighters the power had gone off for a few seconds prior to the alarm sounding.

Harrisburg Daily Register