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CHICAGO (AP) - Cook County Clerk David Orr says he'll start issuing marriage licenses immediately for same-sex couples.
 
Orr made the announcement Friday, just after a federal judge ruled gay couples in the Chicago area don't have to wait until June to marry. That's when the state law is set to take effect.
 
Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman's order says there is no reason to delay same-sex marriages. Her finding applies only to Cook County.
 
Orr says he'll keep the downtown Chicago Bureau of Vital Records open an extra two hours on Friday evening - until 7 p.m. He says he's doing that to accommodate any couples who want to get marriage licenses after work. Only the downtown Chicago will issue same-sex licenses on Friday. All Cook County offices will offer licenses on Monday.
Friday, 21 February 2014 12:48
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The lawyer for a middle-school football coach who's accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old girl in Missouri says Craig Wood is planning to plead not guilty. The public defender's announcement came during a brief hearing today.
 
Wood is accused of snatching Hailey Owens as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday evening in Springfield. Court records indicate her body was found in Wood's basement. Prosecutors say she was shot in the back of the head and that she had ligature marks on her wrists, suggesting she was tied up.
 
Public defender Chris Hatley said Wood plans to contest the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action.
 
Wood appeared by video from a jail where he is being held without bond. He spoke only briefly to answer several questions from the judge. Hailey's parents, older brother and five other family members attended the hearing.
 
A prosecutor challenged Wood's use of a public defender, saying police found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood's name. He said, "I think he can afford his own attorney." The defense attorney replied that "it's frankly none of his business." The judge said he would consider the matter.
Friday, 21 February 2014 12:47
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Accused child killer Craig Wood made his first court appearance in a video  arraignment today (Friday) in a Springfield, MO court. T
The Springfield News Leader reports that Wood was formally charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping in the death of 10-year-old Hailey Owens.
Hailey was abducted and killed Tuesday evening in Springfield. Eight of Hailey’s family members attended the arraignment.
Wood has requested a public defender to handle his case, but Greene County prosecutor Todd Myers challenged that request after he said police found evidence Wood has a $1 million trust in his name.
Myers said Wood “clearly had the means” to pay for his own defense and that it would be an “inappropriate use of public funds” for Wood to be granted a public defender.
The question of whether Wood is eligible for a public defender will be addressed in a court hearing at 9 a.m. on March 19.
Friday, 21 February 2014 10:52
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FENTON, Mo. (AP) - Authorities in Jefferson County are searching for two burglary suspects after a homeowner fired three shots at them - but missed - during an invasion of her home.
 
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department says the woman awoke about 2:50 a.m. Friday and heard someone opening the front door of her home in Fenton. She looked down from the top of the stairs and saw two men standing inside the door. She fired three shots.
 
The burglars ran out, apparently without injuries.
Friday, 21 February 2014 10:28
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds of Illinois pleaded guilty on Friday to violating Zimbabwe's immigration laws.
He was sentenced by the Magistrate's Court in Harare to five days' imprisonment or a fine of $100.
The court ordered that once he has paid the fine or served the prison sentence that he be deported from Zimbabwe.
He is still facing separate charges of possessing pornography, to which he has pleaded innocent. He will appear in court again Friday afternoon on those charges.
The state alleges that Reynolds had images of naked men and women on his iPhone 4S.
U.S. Embassy officials brought him some food in court on Friday morning but declined to speak to the media.
Reynolds, 62, resigned from his congressional seat in 1995 after being convicted of statutory rape.
   
 
Friday, 21 February 2014 10:23
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TROY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say an 83-year-old Missouri man is the victim of fraud, a crime allegedly committed by another man the same age.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Charles Day of Lincoln County had power of attorney for the victim from August 2011 to February 2013.
Police say Day improperly used his authority to raid the victim's bank accounts, a CD and credit union, taking more than $75,000.
The money includes the payout from a life insurance policy on the victim's dead wife.
Day is charged with felony stealing and financial exploitation of the elderly. He is free on $25,000 bond.
Friday, 21 February 2014 10:20
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GALENA, Mo. (AP) - A National Guardsman from southwest Missouri is suing Stone County because his job was given to someone else while he was deployed.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Ryan Joy says when he was deployed in May 2012, he was a mechanic working as shop manager for the Stone County.
When he returned in 2013, the county told him he would no longer be the manager. He was given a lesser position and eventually left because of what he calls a hostile workplace.
Joy says he contacted the Department of Labor, which told county officials that they were violating a federal law by not reinstating Joy to his previous position.
The Springfield News-Leader reports the county filed court documents denying many of Joy's claims.
Friday, 21 February 2014 10:14
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   It should be business as usual Friday at the Bank of America building in downtown St. Louis after an overnight hazmat scare.  

   St. Louis Police and Firefighters were called in about 12:30 a.m. after employees at the office tower found a white, powdery substance spilling out of a package.  

   Hazmat crews investigated and determined the substance wasn't dangerous.  There's no word what that white powder may have been.

Friday, 21 February 2014 04:27
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   CASEYVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The village board in Caseyville has voted to reinstate the village's police chief who was fired last week.
   Caseyville Police Chief Jose Alvarez was fired just five months after taking over for a predecessor who killed himself. But board members voted Thursday to reinstate Alvarez. Board member Rick Casey Jr. tells the Belleville News-Democrat that he voted to reinstate Alvarez because "the process in which he was fired was not right."
   At the time Alvarez said he wasn't aware that he'd been fired. When he fired Alvarez, Caseyville Mayor Len Black said he wanted to take a different direction with the city's police department.
   Black hired the 61-year-old Alvarez last September after the suicide three months earlier of former police chief J.D. Roth.
   
 
Friday, 21 February 2014 03:22
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   The strong line of thunderstorms that sped through the St. Louis area Thursday afternoon spawned a tornado in central Illinois, about 50 west of Springfield.  

   Emergency Services officials in Cass and Morgan Counties had reported the twister just before 3 p.m.

   Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack says the storm caused no damage.    

Friday, 21 February 2014 02:54
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