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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Prosecutors will no longer seek the death penalty against a southwest Missouri man who is charged with killing a classmate.
 
Prosecutors said Wednesday that they dropped the possibility of capital punishment after 20-year-old Gabriel Roche of Republic agreed to have his case decided by a judge, not a jury.
 
Roche is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the December 2011 death of 17-year-old Weston North. Roche took his classmate to a secluded area and stabbed him before slitting his throat.
 
Prosecutors say Roche believed North was a police informant.
 
The Springfield News-Leader reports Roche's attorneys didn't dispute that their client killed North. They asked the judge to consider charging him with second-degree murder, arguing that Roche was on drugs and hallucinating during the killing.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 12:23
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt are taking different approaches to buying health care policies through new online marketplaces.
 
The federal health care law requires members of Congress and their staff to get insurance through a health insurance exchange.
 
Blunt says he already has selected a plan through the District of Columbia's exchange. He will receive an employer contribution to put toward the purchase price, but the Republican senator says he will donate an equal amount to charity.
 
McCaskill says she plans to shop next week for a policy for herself and two daughters on the Missouri exchange, which is run by the federal government. The Democratic senator won't receive an employer contribution for her policy.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 12:17
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FREEBURG, Ill. (AP) - A state arbitrator says a southwestern Illinois village acted appropriately when officials fired two police officers who pulled pranks on colleagues, broke into the evidence locker and damaged police property.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports arbitrator Gerard Fowler has ruled the conduct of John Blomenkamp and Steve Burrows "was so egregious and so harmful to the prosecution of future cases that the village was well advised to terminate their employment as police officers."
 A lawyer for the officers had argued that 4,300-resident St. Clair County village's actions against his clients may have been politically motivated by their union activities.
Blomenkamp and Burrows had sought their jobs back and pay retroactive to their firings in August of last year.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 09:34
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CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A St. Louis County judge has ordered the county to pay $5.9 million to three trash haulers in a dispute over changes the county made in its trash districts five years ago.
 
Judge Barbara Wallace on Wednesday ordered that the county to pay $4.9 million to Waste Management of Missouri, $590,000 to American Eagle Waste Industries and $384,000 to Meridian Waste Services.
 
The trash haulers sued the county in 2008 in a case that went to the Missouri Supreme Court. They argued that the county broke a state law by not giving the haulers two years' notice before changing trash districts in unincorporated parts of the county.
 
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports County Counselor Patricia Redington indicated the county will "aggressively pursue" further legal action in the case.
 
Thursday, 12 December 2013 08:08
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   Off-duty St. Charles County deputies will no longer help out when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to conduct roadside impaired driving checkpoints, as the did last weekend.  

   Sheriff's Lieutenant Dave Tiefenbrunn told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the off-duty deputies flagged motorists to pull over so that NHTSA staff could offer them cash in exchange for submitting blood and saliva samples as part of a study.  Tiefenbrunn said even though the survey was voluntary, the public might not have known they had a choice.  

   The ACLU and officials in other states have raised concerns about the legality of using uniformed officers to help.   

Thursday, 12 December 2013 02:50
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   Allen Nicklasson has been executed for killing a good Samaritan who stopped to help him and his friends after their car had broken down in 1994. Nicklasson was convicted of shooting Excelsior Springs businessman Richard Drummond twice in the head.  

   Missouri corrections officials carried out Nicklasson's sentence shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the state and overturned a lower court stay.  The 41 year old was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre.

   After denying a clemency plea, Governor Jay Nixon issued a statement saying, "the brutality of this crime is unquestioned."  And that a jury had decided it warranted the state's most serious punishment.  Nixon said his decision "upholds the jury's action." 

   The execution is Missouri's second in three weeks and the second since Missouri began using the execution drug, pentobarbital. 

 
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:55
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A pair of murder suspects are in police custody following a chase and crash.

Around 9:30 this morning officers saw a car they thought was connected to a murder. When police tried to pull the car over, the driver sped off. The car crashed near West Florissant and De Soto.

Two suspects were captured, but the third escaped. The suspects are connected to a crime from the past few days.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 15:48
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A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling upholding student transfer laws has put this year's transfer controversy back in the spotlight.

Wednesday night, Normandy School District is hosting a public hearing. Last month officials announced plans to stay open, but with layoffs, early retirements, and at least one school closure. The cuts are the result of the expensive transfer process.

Wednesday's hearing starts at 6:30pm at Normandy High School.

 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 15:46
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A group of eight Missouri lawmakers are calling upon Missouri's governor and attorney general to investigate concerns raised about Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro.

The lawmakers made the request Wednesday after The Kansas City Star reported that newly disclosed emails raised questions about the selection of CEE-Trust as a consultant. The Indianapolis-based firm's bid for developing an improvement plan for the Kansas City district and other struggling schools was nearly three times higher than the closest competitor.

The emails also highlighted some of Nicastro's behind-the-scenes work to create a special district that would operate some of the state's lowest-performing schools.

The lawmakers say the emails raise concerns about Nicastro's "fitness to lead."

Nicastro says the focus should be on ensuring that children "have the quality schools they deserve."

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 15:31
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