Wisconsin Roundup: State Dems To GOP: Act On Our Gun Control Bills; plus more state news
MADISON — Wisconsin Assembly Democrats want action on what they call "common sense gun safety bills" in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting massacre. Madison lawmakers Chris Taylor and Melissa Sargent held a news conference Wednesday to call on the GOP majority to hold hearings on bills they say most people support — universal background checks for all gun purchases, and a 48-hour waiting period before a buyer an obtain a gun. Madison Assembly Democrat Terese Berceau says GOP leaders in Washington refuse to do anything about gun control and her party is not even allowed to debate it. Republican U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville says mental health reform is the answer to prevent mass shootings in the future.
Judge to consider plea deal for final slender man suspect
WAUKESHA, WI — A judge in Waukesha will decide Thursday whether to accept a plea deal for the second and final suspect in the Slender Man stabbing case. Morgan Geyser, 15, is expected to plead guilty to attempted homicide — and her plea agreement with prosecutors would immediately find her not guilty by insanity, thus sending her to a mental hospital indefinitely. Geyser would be spared from a trial unlike her codefendant Anissa Weier, who's expected to get three years in a mental institution after a jury found her innocent by insanity. Both girls are admitting that they stabbed middle school classmate Payton Leutner 19 times in May of 2014 in allegiance to the online horror character Slender Man.
Motorcyclist Dies After Colliding With Deer, Two Vehicles
ASHIPPUN, WI — A motorcyclist has died after the person's bike collided with a deer, a car, and a dump truck. It happened about 7:25 p.m. Wednesday near Ashippun in Dodge County. Sheriff's deputies say the motorcyclist was thrown onto County Trunk "P" after hitting the deer. And the other two vehicles then struck the victim, whose name was not immediately released. The biker died at the scene, and the other two drivers were not hurt.
Body Identified As Missing Wisconsin Man
MAPLE, WI — A man found dead in far northwest Wisconsin has been identified as a man missing since last Thursday. Douglas County sheriff's deputies say 52-year-old Fred Luostari might have been disoriented as he tried walking home in a wooded area, after his car got stuck on a muddy site his family owned. Luostari was the subject of an intense search earlier this week. His body was found Tuesday afternoon about one half mile from his home in the town of Cloverland near Maple. Officials say they're still waiting for autopsy results to see how Luostari died, but foul play is not suspected.
Mining Moratorium Bill Endorsed
MADISON — Wisconsin is one step closer to ending a nearly 20-year-old moratorium on sulfide mines, while making it easier to open a new one. The state Senate's mining panel endorsed a bill Wednesday from its Republican chairman Tom Tiffany who said that if opponents had their way, the miner should be taken off the state flag because "he's not going to work here anymore." The vote was 3-2, with Democrats voting no, to send the bill to the full Senate. Tiffany says mining firms keep looking at Wisconsin but the laws are too restrictive to dig for gold and other metals while disturbing sulfide rock that critics say would pollute groundwater. Tiffany says new technology makes mining safer, and an amendment endorsed Wednesday no longer requires mining firms to prove that their technology has worked in other states — which Middleton Democrat Jon Erpenbach said would make the Wisconsin mining environment a "very substantial unknown."
Officials: Taxpayers Won't Be Hit For Local Foxconn Costs
RACINE, WI — Officials say it will cost $764 million to cover utilities and other local costs for the new Foxconn plant at Mount Pleasant in Racine County. But village leaders promised Wednesday that their residents will not pay any more in taxes for the development — and they avoided a county sales tax that was allowed as part of the state's incentive package to attract Foxconn's high-tech screen plant. Instead, a variety of local costs will be covered in a tax incremental financing district that uses the entire increase in property taxes that Foxconn and its suppliers generate. The TIF revenue is expected to be used for land acquisition, water and sewer lines, and additional police and fire protection. Officials also said they needed to give Foxconn a $100 million forgiveable loan in order to seal the deal — and about $285 million will be borrowed for upfront costs.
State DOT: September Traffic Deaths Fewest Since World War II
MADISON — Wisconsin records its fewest traffic deaths for a September since the end of World War Two in the 1940s. According to preliminary figures from the state DOT, 41 people lost their lives in state crashes last month — six fewer than the same month last year, and 16 fewer than the average for the last five Septembers. In total, 438 people were killed on Wisconsin roadways in the first nine months of this year — one fewer than the same period last year, but 19 more than the five-year average. Sixty-five motorcyclists have died this year along with 44 pedestrians and three bicycle riders.
Body Found In Park Lake Confirmed To Be Missing Woman
MADISON — The Dane County medical examiner confirms that a body found in a lake northwest of Madison was that of a woman missing since last Thursday. The body of 29-year-old Marisa Dahms of Waunakee was pulled from the water at Lake Melvin Park in the village of Dane on Monday, four days after she was last seen in the park. There were no signs of foul play, and the medical examiner's office continues to investigate the death.
State Scraps I-94 Rebuild In Milwaukee, Blames Lack Of Money
MADISON — Interstate 94 in Milwaukee will not be expanded anytime soon. The state DOT pulled the plug on the east/west project today Wednesday due to a lack of funds. It has asked the federal government to withdraw its authorization. In a letter to the Federal Highway Administration, DOT Secretary Dave Ross said it's not likely that the state will pay for the project between the Zoo interchange in Wauwatosa and the Marquette interchange near downtown Milwaukee. Ross cited a federal lawsuit from the project's opponents, saying the legal action would be an "unnecessary expense for all parties involved" if the state doesn't okay the work.
Names Of German Women Killed In Sparta Area Crash Released
SPARTA, WI — The State Patrol has released the names of three women from Germany killed when their car hit a deer and was then rear ended by a semitrailer. The car driver, 20-year-old Laura Prechtel, died at the crash scene, along with 22-year-old Christine Damer and 20-year-old Melina Orfanidis. The crash happened Sunday night on Interstate 90 near Sparta. The trucker, a 46-year-old Missouri man, was taken to Sparta hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officials say Damer was the only one wearing a seatbelt. The State Patrol continues to investigate.
Beloit Man Gets 5 Years For Fatal Drug Robbery
BELOIT, WI — A Beloit man got five years behind bars for his role in a fatal drug robbery in Rock County last December. Joldany Rodriguez, 20, was sentenced Tuesday. He pleaded guilty in July to setting up a drug robbery that led to the fatal shooting 16-year-old Savion Latimer. Rodriguez must also serve 10 years of extended supervision after his release. Television station WISC reports that police said Rodriguez told officers that he asked Latimer if he wanted to participate in the robbery. Rodriguez said he and the other friend didn’t intend to pay the dealer for the drugs. Rodriguez said he didn’t know that Latimer planned to bring a gun until the day of the robbery. Rodriguez said when Latimer thought the dealer was reaching for a gun, he pointed his gun at the dealer. The dealer pointed a gun back at Latimer and fired a shot.