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BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A judge in southwestern Illinois has sentenced a man to 47 years in prison for beating to death his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that 24-year-old Julian Gates told the St. Clair County judge Friday that he "snapped" when the girl urinated in her bed.

Gates, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, told investigators he beat Mia Caito with a belt, his hand and an extension cord.

Investigators say the girl was covered "head to toe" in bruises and died of blunt force trauma in the January 2012 assault.

In a victim impact statement, the girl's mother, Brandy Johnson, told the court the little girl loved hugs and kisses, wearing her hair in a ponytail and watching "Dora the Explorer."

Published in Local News

A convicted murderer who was released from prison early, is charged for murdering a second person and dumping the body in Horseshoe Lake.

Scott Thompson was convicted of murder in 1989, but was released in February of this year after serving just 24 years of his 45-year sentence.

Now investigators believe Thompson killed 20-year-old Dakota Jones and left his body in the lake. Thompson was released because his conviction predated Illinois' "truth in sentencing" laws. The new rules require that murderers serve their entire sentence.

Thompson faces two counts of first-degree murder.

Published in Local News

GRANITE CITY, Ill. (AP) -- Authorities issued charges against an East St. Louis man for the death of a Cahokia man who was found in an Illinois state park lake on Sunday.

Scott L Thompson, 42, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the death of 20-year-old Dakota Jones.

Illinois State Police say Jones’ body was found Sunday morning in the water near a boat launch ramp at Horseshoe Lake State Park near Pontoon Beach.

Authorities say Jones died of blunt force trauma, and evidence at the scene indicates the case was a homicide.

Illinois State Police Capt. Jim Morrissey says Jones had been dead less than 24 hours when his body was found.

Thompson was taken into custody on Sunday and remains in police custody with no bond.

 

Published in Local News

   LAKESIDE, Calif. (AP) — Amber Alerts expanded to Oregon and Washington as authorities searched for a Southern California man suspected of abducting a 16-year-old girl and wanted in the death of the girl's mother and possibly her 8-year-old brother.

   Oregon state police said there was a possible sighting of James Lee DiMaggio's blue Nissan Versa in northeast California near Alturas on Wednesday, followed by another about 50 miles along the same highway near Lakeview, in south-central Oregon.

   Investigators have said DiMaggio may be headed to Texas or Canada with 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and possibly her 8-year-old brother Ethan, though investigators said a charred body discovered along with the mother could be the boy.

   Also Wednesday, a friend of Hannah Anderson said DiMaggio told Hannah he had a crush on her and would date her if they were the same age.

   DiMaggio explained that he didn't want the girls to think he was weird in an effort to defend himself after noticing they exchanged glances, 15-year-old Marissa Chavez said. She said he spoke while driving them home from a high school gymnastics meet a couple months ago.

   Hannah Anderson asked Chavez to join her from then on whenever DiMaggio, 40, drove her to meets.

   "She was a little creeped out by it. She didn't want to be alone with him," Chavez said.

   DiMaggio was like an uncle to Hannah and 8-year-old Ethan. He was very close with their parents for years.

   On Sunday night, authorities found the body of 42-year-old Christina Anderson when they extinguished flames at DiMaggio's rural home. A child's body was found as they sifted through rubble in Boulevard, a tiny town 65 miles east of San Diego on the U.S.-Mexico border.

   The child's body has not been identified but it may be Ethan, sheriff's Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said late Tuesday.

   Christina Anderson's father, Christopher Saincome, said Wednesday that his daughter visited DiMaggio's home last weekend to say goodbye before he moved to Texas. DiMaggio, who works as a telecommunications technician at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, was a regular presence at the Anderson family apartment in Lakeside, a suburb of 54,000 people.

   "He must have had this planned," Saincome said.

   Saincome said nothing seemed amiss when he called his daughter at work Friday to let her know she didn't call on his birthday. Anderson, a medical assistant, said she would call back that night but never did.

   Investigators had no evidence that the relationship between DiMaggio and the missing girl was more than friendly.

   "We're not looking into that directly at this point," Giannantonio said.

   DiMaggio is wanted on suspicion of murder and arson in a search that began in Southern California and spread to Mexico and neighboring states.

   DiMaggio's sister, Lora Robinson, told U-T San Diego that the allegations against her brother were "completely out of character." She said he spent four years in the Navy, left the service to care for her after their mother died of cancer, and volunteered rescuing animals.

   "He is the kindest person in the world," Robinson said.

Published in National News
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 17:25

Columbia man sentenced to 20 years for murder

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - One of two suspects in a central Missouri homicide has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges in the case.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that 21-year-old Durantrae D. Logan of Columbia was sentenced Tuesday to two 20-year sentences, to be served concurrently.

Logan pleaded guilty in Boone County Circuit Court to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the March 2012 shooting death of 39-year-old Lamont Sargent.

Prosecutors said the shooting occurred during a drug deal.

A co-defendant in the case, Larrell M. Banks of Fulton, is also charged with second-degree murder and attempted distribution of a controlled substance. He has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 30 and a jury trial Oct. 9 in Boone County Circuit Court.

 
Published in Local News

Charges are filed against Keith Wildharber after police say he accidentally shot and killed his friend.

Wildharber was drinking with his friends on Monday night, when witnesses say he playfully pulled out a gun, pointed it at the victim, asked the victim if he trusted him, and pulled the trigger. The victim died from a gunshot wound to the stomach. Police say Wildharber believed the gun was unloaded.

He now faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

 
Published in Local News
Tuesday, 30 July 2013 16:12

Convicted murderer to get new sentence

A convicted murderer who is spending life in prison without parole, will be resentenced.

Ledale Nathan was 16-years-old when he was tried as an adult for the 2009 murder of Gina Stallis. Nathan was convicted on 26 charges including first-degree murder. Nathan's lawyers filed an appeal saying the state did not prove first-degree murder. The appeal also said his age should have factored into the sentencing.

The State Supreme Court is upholding the convictions but sending the case back to lower courts for resentencing. The high court says the punishment is a violation of Nathan's Eighth Amendment rights.

Published in Local News

Police have identified the man shot and killed this morning in North St. Louis.

Police received a call about a shooting just after 8 AM. When officers arrived they found 45-year-old Sean Jackson with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No information on any suspects or a motive for the shooting.

Published in Local News

ATTLEBORO, Mass. (AP) - Newly released surveillance photos show former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez holding what authorities say appears to be a gun, shortly after his friend was shot to death.

The photos taken from Hernandez's home surveillance system are contained in more than 100 pages of court records released Thursday.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, whose body was found June 17 near Hernandez's home.

An affidavit says the pictures show Hernandez in his basement holding a gun not long after Lloyd was killed. The surveillance was cut off within minutes.

Other photos show what authorities say is Hernandez in his living room before Lloyd's killing also holding what they believe is a gun.

Police say Lloyd was killed with a .45 caliber gun, but it has not been recovered.

 
Published in National News

   STEELVILLE, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Missouri man is charged with second-degree murder, accused of shooting another man following an argument along the Meramec River.

   The shooting happened Saturday afternoon. The suspect, 59 year old James Crocker of Steelville, is jailed on $650,000 cash-only bond.

   Court records allege that Crocker, a property owner along the river, was angry that a man on a float trip stopped to urinate on a gravel bar. Crocker is accused of shooting the man's traveling companion, 48 year old Paul Dart, Jr. of Robertsville.

  Dart's widow, Loretta Dart says her husband had tried to intervene to keep the peace.

   "My husband was trying to solve the situation without anyone getting hurt," she said.  "And it wound up taking his life." 

   Dart was shot in the head. Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin says Crocker then went to a neighboring home and asked a woman to call 911.

   Dart's widow says he was on his annual float trip with about 50 others.

Published in Local News

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