State Briefs 2/27/08
Judge: Peterson can have seized property back
JOLIET, Ill. – A Will County judge ruled Wednesday that Drew Peterson should have his seized property returned to him.
Judge Richard Schoenstedt said Peterson can have the items seized by police carrying out a Nov. 1 search warrant within a month provided he agrees to a set of conditions at a Monday, March 17, hearing.
Peterson’s attorney Joel Brodsky called the ruling “reasonable” and encouraging for his client.
“The judge has heard the (state’s) evidence and still determined Drew should have his property back,” Brodsky said. “The state’s case might not be all they think it is.”
Brodsky filed the petition in December and requested investigators return all of the items taken in the search, including CDs, an iPod, a backpack, guns and vehicles.
Judge Daniel Rozak later ordered state police to return all items except for the 11 guns, two laptops, three desktop computers, and two vehicles. Rozak said his decision was temporary and would be reviewed periodically.
On Feb. 1, Brodsky asked Schoenstedt to force the state to return Peterson’s property because all necessary forensics testing should have been completed by this time. Peterson’s lawyers called Michigan-based forensic scientist Ann Chamberlain as an expert witness during the Feb. 1 hearing to testify to the amount of time it takes to process possible evidence.
Chamberlain told Judge Richard Schoenstedt that, in her experience, all processing that requires the original piece of evidence can be completed within a few weeks. After that, the original item can be returned without harming an investigation.
Assistant state’s attorney John Connor asserted the state has a right to keep Peterson’s property forever, as long as there is a pending investigation, and warned Schoenstedt that allowing Peterson to regain his property would open the floodgates for similar requests from other suspects.
Schoenstedt rejected the claim that investigators can hold the property forever and Wednesday ordered them to return the items.
He also ordered Peterson to appear in court March 17 to go over the conditions for his property to be returned, which include an agreement to not dispose of the items and, in the event the case goes to trial, an agreement to not challenge the validity of photographs or other renditions of the property during the trial.
Chuck Pelkie, spokesman for the Will County state’s attorney, said the ruling was reasonable and that all forensics testing had been completed or will be completed “in the near future.”
Pelkie also confirmed that State’s Attorney James Glasgow had sent a letter to state police asking them to revoke Peterson’s firearm owner’s identification, which Schoenstedt said Peterson must have to keep the guns. Pelkie would not elaborate on a reason for Glasgow’s request but said the investigation into Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy’s disappearance continues.
“This investigation is moving forward at a steady and methodical pace,” Pelkie said.
Suburban Life Publications
Rockford stocks up on extra salt
ROCKFORD – The city is buying an additional 3,000 tons of salt to bolster its supplies for the rest of winter.
Before Monday’s storm, the street department had 1,700 tons of salt, with 4,500 tons still to arrive as part of this winter’s contract, according to a memo from the Public Works Department.
Out of concern the supplies won’t last if more snow comes, the city is spending more than $330,000 to buy salt from a Canadian supplier. The salt will arrive by train in Cicero, then trucked to the city.
If the salt isn’t needed, it can be used next winter, said interim Public Works Director Tim Hanson.
Rockford Register Star
Chillicothe elementary school locked down after threatening message found
CHILLICOTHE - A Chillicothe elementary school was under an "informal lockdown" Tuesday after a threatening message was found in the building - less than a week after a similar situation at the district's high school.
The "vague threat," scrawled with pencil next to a stall in a boys restroom off the school's main hallway, was found about 9:30 a.m., said Chillicothe Elementary Center Principal Dianne Pointer.
Pointer said the third- through eighth-grade school went into all-school alert, and staff members, police and the school superintendent were warned. Officials declined to comment on the specifics of the threat.
Nothing dangerous was found when administrators and police searched the junior high lockers, but an officer remained at the school Tuesday and Wednesday.
"In this day and age, with things going on so close to home . . . No matter what, each one of these you take with incredible seriousness," Pointer said. The principal said junior high students, who begin school at 7:30 a.m., have access to that rest room in the morning.
Staff explained the situation to all students and sent a letter home to parents notifying them of the threat. Pointer said she received few calls from parents Tuesday.
She said most of the junior high students were aware of a similar situation at Illinois Valley Central High School, where a threatening message was discovered Thursday. That threat, school officials said, was directed at a specific student.
Journal Star, Peoria
Town and Country days facing shortage of volunteers, funds
ELDORADO – The popular Town and Country Days festival, which takes place each September, is once again facing a lack of volunteers and money.
The same situation faced the Town and Country Days committee a year ago. However, a number of community volunteers stepped forward to assist.
Town and Country Days committee member Connie Cummins told Eldorado City Council that the greatest need is help in organizing the annual Father's Day Car Show, a money-raiser for Town and Country Days.
Cummins said two key organizers of the car show resigned from the committee after the last Town and Country Days.
Cummins said the car show annually raises about $1,000 to help finance Town and Country Days entertainment. Last year, she said, was a record year, with $1,700 raised.
Financing entertainment has become a major problem as the cost for booking nationally known acts has skyrocketed. Even providing the sound system for a national act has grown to about $3,000, she said.
Eldorado Daily Journal
State employee charged with downloading child pornography
SPRINGFIELD -- An employee of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency was arrested today on charges that he downloaded child pornography onto his work computer.
Matthew Robinson, 27, of Springfield, is charged with official misconduct and possession of child pornography.
Authorities said a routine audit of IEMA computers found that Robinson had downloaded nine pornographic videos on his work computer during work hours.