State Briefs 4/24/08
Infant’s death ruled homicide
PEORIA – The February starvation death of five-month-old Benjamin Sargent was ruled a homicide Thursday by a Peoria County coroner’s jury.
Following a 911 call on February 12, the infant was found in a car seat placed inside a crib wearing a snowsuit saturated by urine and feces, the jury was told.
Peoria Police Department Detective David Nelson told the jury that he learned through interviews that the infant had been “uncared for” for eight days.
The cause of death was a combination of starvation, dehydration and sepsis, or an infection caused by “sitting in (his own) waste material,” Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll told the jury.
The infant’s parents, Tracy Hermann, 21, and James Sargent, 23, of Peoria, have been charged with murder in the death of their child.
Peoria Journal Star
Couple charged with animal cruelty
CAPRON – A Boone County couple has been charged with animal cruelty and had dozens of animals seized from their rural home.
Colin Slater, 78, and his wife, Marie, 72, both of Capron, both were charged with three counts of animal cruelty.
Boone County authorities seized 30 dogs, 10 horses, six donkeys, eight goats and two kittens Monday from their a home and barn in Capron.
The couple “failed to provide sufficient quantity of good-quality, wholesome food and water to their canines,” according to a complaint filed by Tom Dixon of Boone County Animals Services.
Some of the animals will need to be euthanized, court documents said.
Rockford Register Star
Comptroller says withholding extension money not right
HARRISBURG – Comptroller Dan Hynes said he believes Gov. Rod Blagojevich's decision to cut money already allocated for programs like the University of Illinois Extension Service is "not the way to govern."
Citing budget shortfalls, the governor's office recently decided to hold back the state's "county board match," money that matches local funding for Extension Service programs like 4-H. That money was included in the current budget and Extension Service offices did not learn until most of the fiscal year is over the money would not be coming. Extension offices face dire consequences if the withheld money is not restored – budgets were made and money was spent assuming the state's promises would be kept.
The governor's office has contended the budget is out of balance, so unilateral action must be taken to bring it into balance.
Unfortunately, Hynes said in a recent visit to Harrisburg, programs like University of Illinois Extension Service that are vital to senior citizens and kids have been targeted.
Since the budget was already passed into state law by the General Assembly and Blagojevich, some people have wondered whether Blagojevich can just take allocated money out of the budget without an amendment to the law.
The question of whether the governor's office can withhold money already appropriated by law is the subject of debate in Springfield. Whether Blagojevich can or not, however, is beside the point, Hynes said. Holding back money already appropriated wreaks havoc on budgets, harms communities and "is not the way to govern," Hynes said.
Harrisburg Daily Register
Female jogger abducted, sexually assaulted
PEORIA – Police want the public’s help in finding two men who dragged a female jogger off a South Peoria street Wednesday evening, drove her to a rural area and sexually assaulted her.
The woman said she was running in the area of Griswold and Howett streets between 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. when a dark-colored pickup truck, possibly brown or black, pulled up to her. Inside were a white male driver and a black male passenger.
The driver jumped out, grabbed the woman and forced her into the truck. The two then drove her to an area in Peoria County, assaulted her and left her there as they drove away. The woman sought help and was taken to a Peoria hospital for treatment.
She said the white male is in his mid-30s, about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10-inches tall, with a heavy build, a balding or shaved head, a long blondish-red beard and wore jeans, a black T-shirt and yellow construction boots. She had no detailed description for the black male.
Peoria Journal Star