State Briefs 12/02/09
Durand teacher second to be charged with sexual misconduct
ROCKFORD — A 41-year-old Durand teacher faces four felony and two misdemeanor charges in connection with the second set of sexual conduct allegations to hit the small school district in a matter of weeks.
Bret Meier, whom officials would only describe as “a tenured high school teacher,” faces one felony count of child pornography, three felony counts of indecent solicitation of a child and two misdemeanor counts of distribution of harmful materials to a child.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato said his office obtained the arrest warrant for Meier on Monday. Meier turned himself in and was being held in the county jail on a $100,000 bond this evening.
Bruscato said the charges stem from incidents with one student over a year’s time, but he would not say if the student was a male or female. He described the child only as a minor.
In October, Durand High School Spanish teacher Jennifer Bland, 23, was arrested on charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four male students ages 14 to 17. After bonding out of jail on those charges, Bland was arrested again Oct. 22 on separate charges of criminal sexual assault involving two more students.
Rockford Register Star
Fire damages grain dryer
MORTON – A fire Wednesday morning at Roth Grain Co. caused an estimated $10,000 in damage to a grain dryer.
Firefighters were called to the fire about 8:15 a.m. They left about an hour later.
Morton Fire Chief Joe Kelley said the fire was contained to the upper part of the nearly 60-foot tall dryer. “We used our aerial truck to access the area,” he said. “Once we put a hole in the side of the dryer, we extinguished the fire.”
Peoria Journal Star
Reports: Virden woman, exchange student killed in Mississippi crash
VIRDEN – A Virden woman and a Thai exchange student attending school in Virden died Monday in a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 55 in Mississippi, according to reports.
Cindy D. McCasland, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene following the afternoon crash near Hernando, Miss. In addition, the 15-year-old exchange student died from severe head injuries suffered in the crash, according to the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis. His name was not immediately released.
Another child, described as a young boy, also was hurt.
The DeSoto County coroner confirmed the student was from Thailand. Virden school officials confirmed a foreign exchange student there had been killed earlier this week. School Superintendent Ron Graham declined to identify the student. The coroner also declined to identify the teen.
The Commercial Appeal reported the crash occurred about 12:30 p.m. on Monday, about two miles south of the Hernando exit on Interstate 55. Four people reportedly were inside the Ford Expedition when the driver – Corey M. Breaux, 24, of New Iberia, La. – lost control and the vehicle went into the median and rolled over.
Curious George show coming to Peoria
PEORIA – The beloved children's character Curious George will bring his live stage show to the Peoria Civic Center this winter.
"Curious George Live!" is set for shows at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 and 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Feb. 3. Tickets are $14, $22 and $28. A limited number of $38 premium seats and $44 front row seats are also available. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Dec. 17 at the Peoria Civic Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at (800) 745-3000 and online at Ticketmaster.com.
Created in 1941 by Margret and H.A. Rey, Curious George has provided the inspiration for books, movies and a television series. In the stage show, Curious George is on a mission to help Chef Pisghetti save his restaurant by winning a world-famous meatball competition.
Peoria Journal Star
Prosecution wants DNA testing in Beason murders
LINCOLN – The prosecution against Christopher and Jason Harris, the two brothers accused of murdering the Raymond Gee family of Beason, filed a motion Tuesday to test several pieces of evidence for DNA.
Amanda Humke, a forensic scientist for the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Laboratory in Springfield, recently sent a letter to the prosecution advising that the office was in possession of evidence suitable for testing.
Some of the main items include fingernail scrapings from the victims: Gee, his wife Ruth, Justina Constant, Dillon Constant and Austin Gee.
Other items include a tire iron, two pairs of shoes, a laptop that was reportedly stolen from the home and evidence taken from the house.
Both Harris brothers are set to appear for a status hearing Thursday at the Logan County Courthouse in front of Circuit Judge Thomas Harris.