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Wisconsin state news briefs: Evers: $500M not enough for K--12 schools, and more state news stories

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee did what it said it would do, approving an additional $500 million in funding for the state's public schools.  

Gov. Tony Evers and his fellow Democrats say that's not enough. Evers had proposed a $1.4 billion increase, but Republicans say the state can't afford to go that high. Evers told reporters he thinks he can work with them to get more money for the next two years.


Green Bay driver enters no contest plea in fatal hit-&-run crash

GREEN BAY -- When bicycle rider Russell Owens suffered fatal injuries in an accident last year, witnesses told police two men got out of an SUV, looked down at Owen, then got back in and sped from the scene.  

Barry Watters entered a no contest plea during a Brown County Circuit Court appearance Wednesday. He will be sentenced in July on his conviction of hit-and-run causing death. The incident happened in March 2018.


Wisconsin college student who died while rock climbing was UWRF student

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Authorities in Colorado have identified the 22-year-old Wisconsin college student who suffered fatal injuries in a fall while rock climbing last weekend.  

Mitchel Halberg was from Winona, Minn. He suffered a head injury in a Saturday accident in Poudre Canyon near Fort Collins, Colo. He was a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  

An obituary says Halberg was president-elect of the university's rock climbing club and was with friends when he fell.


Madison bike rider says teen attacked, knocked him out

MADISON -- A man riding his bicycle through Madison's Warner Park Wednesday night says he was attacked and knocked out by a teenager.  The victim's name hasn't been released.

He says a group of teens laughed at him when he fell off his bike at about 8:45 p.m. He told them they were being disrespectful, then started riding away when one member of the group showed a handgun. That's when he says the teenager chased him down, pushed him off the bike and knocked him unconscious. The man suffered fractured facial bones.


Neenah man bound over for trial in boating accident which killed 2 sisters

OSHKOSH -- Prosecutors say a 44-year-old Neenah man was intoxicated when he was involved in a fatal boating accident on Lake Winnebago last summer.  

Brian Sullivan was bound over for trial during a Thursday appearance in Winnebago County Circuit Court. Sullivan's blood alcohol content was above the legal limit when the boat he was operating hit another one.  

Sisters Lauren and Cassie Laabs were thrown into the water and they drowned. Sullivan is charged with two counts of homicide by use of a vehicle with prohibited alcohol concentration.


5 people face federal indictments for forced labor and human trafficking

MILWAUKEE -- Federal prosecutors accuse five people of forcing Mexican immigrants to work on farms by threatening to harm them.

The 14 Mexican immigrants received agriculture work visas in 2016, supposedly to work in Georgia. Instead, they were brought to Wisconsin where their documents were allegedly seized and they were prevented from leaving.  

Saul Garcia, Saul Garcia Jr., Daniel Garcia, Consuelo Garcia and Maria Remedios-Garcia face federal charges of human trafficking and forced labor. The victims have not been identified.


Calif. HS teacher faces sex charges after similar problems in Wis.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- A high school Spanish teacher in California who faces sex charges had similar problems when he taught in Madison.  

Fifty-nine-year-old Hector Vazquez has entered a not guilty plea to three felony charges, including unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Vazquez was hired at Westmoor High School in 2011, five years after he had been fired in Wisconsin. Parents had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him, costing the educator his job with the Madison Metropolitan School District.


Nicolet College notifies students about suicide at entrance

RHINELANDER -- A campus notification was sent to students at Nicolet College Thursday afternoon telling them there was an incident involving a gun at the campus main entrance. Students were encouraged to avoid the area.  

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office says it responded to a report of a man on the ground at the entrance to the Rhinelander campus. The man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He wasn't a student at the college and the students weren't in danger.


Madison adds more new residents than any other Wis. city

MADISON -- Madison added nearly 2,600 residents to its population over the last year, a much higher number than any other Wisconsin city. Three of the four fastest-growing Wisconsin communities were in Dane County, including Sun Prairie and Fitchburg.  

Milwaukee lost 1,880 residents during the same time period.

Exact gains: Madison-2,581, Sun Prairie-1,055, Fitchburg-663


Sentencing Friday for man convicted in Kloss kidnapping, parents' murders

BARRON -- Jake Patterson will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Barron County Circuit Court for the October 2018 abduction of 13-year-old Jayme Closs and shooting deaths of her parents.

The 21-year-old from Gordon pleaded guilty to intentional homicide, kidnapping and armed burglary and faces a mandatory life prison term. The judge will decide whether Patterson will ever be eligible for parole.  

Douglas County prosecutors dropped an armed burglary charge as part of the plea agreement. Members of Jayme's family are expected to give victim impact statements at sentencing.


Fugitive dead in officer-involved shooting in Ashland

ASHLAND -- A man wanted by U.S. Marshals is dead after an officer-involved shooting Wednesday evening in Ashland. Police say the suspect wanted on a federal warrant was shot and killed as authorities attempted to arrest him.  

The man is from the West Coast and had been living in northern Wisconsin for about a year. Ashland police say he was shot by an officer from another law enforcement agency. Neighbors reported hearing eight to 12 shots.  

No officers were injured in the shooting. The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation is assisting with the case.


DNR restructuring state's bear hunt for first time in decades

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is making changes to the rules for the state's bear hunt.  

There will be six bear hunt management zones instead of four and limits will be based on agricultural damage, hunter success and nuisance complaints.

The changes are the first since 1980 and they could go into effect in 2021. The board decided not to allow hunters to use hounds.


WisDot: Citations way down in work zones

MADISON -- Lower speed limits in construction zones may be having a good effect on traffic -- especially along a stretch of Interstate 39-90 near Janesville.  

The Wisconsin State Patrol and Department of Transportation report citations are way down this year. In April of last year, nearly 700 drivers were cited during traffic stops. That number is just 232 in the same month this year. Only 31 accidents happened in work zones.  

Fair warning -- troopers will be out in force for the holiday weekend, including aerial enforcement.


Attorney for Slender Man defendant: Confession shouldn't have been admissible

WAUKESHA -- The attorney for Slender Man defendant Morgan Geyser says his client's confession shouldn't have been admissible at her trial.  

Geyser and another girl stabbed a classmate 19 times and left her for dead.They said they did it to impress the internet character Slender Man. , Geyser's attorney says she didn't know what she was doing when she waived her rights before admitting the crime. She is serving a 40-year sentence in a state mental health facility.


Reckless homicide charges to be filed in Marathon County

WAUSAU -- Formal charges of first-degree reckless homicide were expected to be filed against a 31-year-old Wausau woman in Marathon County Circuit Court Thursday.  

Ashley Szarkowitz is accused of providing the fentanyl which left a 24-year-old man dead. The incident happened March 13.  

Szarkowitz was inside the home when police arrived and she was taken into custody. Police say she admitted her role in the victim's death while talking to her roommate in front of officers.


Former Middleton School District employee alleges discrimination

MADISON -- A former administrative assistant for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District has filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was the victim of discrimination.  

Attorneys for Ruth M. Herbin say she was told she had no chance for a promotion because the district needed more diversity. Herbin says she was discriminated against became she is white.

She also alleges she was fired for filing an internal complaint when she was passed over for the job she wanted.


Police: Video surveillance shows 2 women stealing $900 worth of cosmetics

MENOMONEE FALLS -- Menomonee Falls police say the crime is played out on video surveillance. It shows two women stealing $900 worth of cosmetics at that city's Ulta beauty store.  

The accused shoplifters use large purses to conceal the items they are stealing, right in the middle of a workday and in front of some store employees. Police are hoping somebody will recognize the suspects from the video and help them track them down. Police say shoplifting isn't unusual, but the amount of stuff the women stole this time is way above average.