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Police, fire and courts


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mason coroner calls death 'suspicious'

TOPEKA - Authorities have labeled the early Saturday morning death of a Mason County man as suspicious, but continue to release few details.

Michael Baker, 53, was pronounced dead at 4:10 a.m. at his home in Goofy Ridge, an unincorporated area near Topeka, by Mason County Coroner Michael Hurley.

The Mason County Sheriff's Department is investigating, Sheriff Wayne Youell confirmed Monday. But he declined to provide any details about Baker's death.

"We don't want to compromise the investigation by giving out too much at this time," he said.

Hurley termed the investigation as one into a "suspicious death" and said police are gathering evidence to see if it was a homicide.

No one has been arrested in the case, Youell said.

Hurley said an autopsy was performed, but he declined to release the results until after a meeting this morning. More details of the death likely will be released at that time, Youell said.

Hurley said he is still awaiting toxicology tests for Baker but that the results probably wouldn't influence the official finding for a cause of death.

Anyone with information on Baker or the death is asked to call the Mason County Sheriff's Department at 543-2231.

Galesburg woman hit and killed by train identified

GALESBURG - Police have identified a woman who was struck and killed by a train Friday evening.

Nancy Landess, 55, of Galesburg was last seen walking near the West Street railroad crossing before she was struck by an eastbound freight train there about 10 p.m.

Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas pronounced Landess dead at 10:35 p.m. Friday. An autopsy Saturday determined she died of blunt-force injuries.

The death remains under investigation, with an inquest yet to be scheduled.

Macomb tavern reports theft of about $4,000

MACOMB - About $4,000 was stolen from a Macomb tavern during a weekend burglary.

Macomb police were called to the Last Chance Saloon on East Jackson Street on Saturday morning. The burglary happened between 3 and 6 a.m. that morning.

Police reports said about $2,000 was stolen from video-game machines, and another $2,000 was taken from a deposit bag.

Police wouldn't release information about how entry to the building was gained.

No arrests have yet been made in the case.

Macomb student arrested after fight with teacher

MACOMB - A student at the Macomb Junior and Senior High School was arrested Friday afternoon after an altercation with a teacher.

The 11-year-old boy was charged with aggravated battery and was removed from the school on South Johnson Street.

The student kicked and threatened a teacher at about 12:15 p.m. Friday, according to reports.

The student was arrested by a Macomb police officer who works in the local schools. He was processed at the police station and was later released to his parents.

Galesburg girl hit by truck in serious condition

GALESBURG - A 7-year-old Galesburg girl who was hit by a truck Friday while riding her bicycle was in serious condition at a Peoria hospital Monday.

According to police, the girl was struck by Dawn M. Ballard, 38, of Oneida in the 400 block of North Street. Ballard told police she was driving westbound when she saw a child riding a bicycle leave the sidewalk and enter the roadway.

Ballard said she did not see where the child went but stopped her truck as soon as she could. She found the child behind her truck and carried her to the side of the road.

The girl was taken to OSF Saint Mary's Medical Center in Galesburg, then flown by helicopter to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

Ballard was cited for expired registration. The accident remains under investigation.

Bath woman, 76, found after missing for day

BATH - A 76-year-old Bath woman was found unharmed Monday morning after she had been reported missing one day earlier, according to the Mason County Sheriff's Department.

Elma Pruitt was last seen about 2:30 p.m. Sunday as she drove away from her rural Bath home in a golf cart.

Electrical failure blamed for East Peoria house fire

EAST PEORIA - The electrical failure of a small appliance is being blamed for a Saturday afternoon house fire that caused almost $50,000 in damage.

Firefighters responded about 2:40 p.m. to the home of Paul and Mary Darnell, 209 Cobblestone Lane, to find the utility room ablaze. The appliance, which was not named, had been in the utility room.

The couple was in their backyard at the time of the fire and was not injured, officials said.

City of Peoria


- Jernell D. Etherly, 27, of 519 Columbia Terrace was arrested about 2 a.m. Saturday in the 300 block of Southwest Washington Street and booked on charges of possessing a controlled substance and obstructing an officer.

- Ronald K. Wright, 41, of 113 Monson St., East Peoria, was arrested about 9 p.m. Sunday in the 3400 block of Oakcrest Drive and booked on a charge of possessing a controlled substance.

- Joe A. Raymond, 26, of 4512 N. Indiana Ave., Peoria Heights, was arrested about 2:35 p.m. Friday in the 1500 block of West Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and booked on a charge of possessing a controlled substance.

Peoria County


- Mary Goss, 37, of 3615 W. Harman Highway, Apt. 21, was arrested about 9 p.m. Sunday in the 3100 block of Harman Highway and booked on charges of possessing a controlled substance, possessing drug equipment, altering of her vehicle's registration and having a defective windshield.


- Steven F. Donahue, 36, of 3229 N. Route 8, Elmwood, was arrested about 2:50 a.m. Saturday at Burnzees Bar and Grill, 106 N. Jackson St., Brimfield, and booked on charges of aggravated assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. Donahue allegedly brought a loaded shotgun to the tavern during a domestic dispute. No one was injured.

Village of Peoria Heights


- Russell P. Bishop, 39, of 846 Thenius Road, Sparland, was arrested about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday in the 6500 block of North Galena Road and booked on charges of possessing a controlled substance, driving with a suspended license and speeding.

- Tiffany E. Ford, 28, of 404 S. Kellogg St., Yates City, was arrested about 4:30 a.m. Sunday in the 4500 block North Columbus Avenue and booked on charges of possessing a controlled substance, driving on a suspended license, disobeying a stop sign and speeding.

Man allegedly snips hair of girlfriend in fight

PEORIA - A West Bluff woman has less hair to manage after her boyfriend allegedly snipped off eight inches of her locks Sunday evening during an argument.

Lesa A. Allen, 40, and Terry S. Thomas, 34, had been drinking when the couple, who had been seeing each other for more than two years, started fighting about 7 p.m., police said.

During the argument, Thomas allegedly pushed and pinched Allen. Thomas even teased his girlfriend, saying she couldn't defend herself because she was on probation for an earlier domestic battery conviction against him.

Allen tried her best to coax Thomas out of the house, located in the 100 block of Northeast Roanoke Avenue. He eventually agreed to leave but under one condition - that he was going to cut her hair off before he did, police said.

Thomas grabbed Allen and held her down while he snipped off almost eight inches of her hair. Allen said she objected during the unwanted haircut.

Thomas caused more damage as he left the house, police said. As he walked past a basement window, he kicked it, shattering it and tearing the screen.

As of Monday evening, police had not located Thomas, who was wanted for questioning. He faces charges of criminal damage to property and domestic battery.

Battery charges dropped against 16-year-old girl

PEORIA - Prosecutors on Monday dismissed charges against a 16-year-old Peoria girl who was accused of throwing bleach in another woman's face last year.

Jamilla Hardy was scheduled to stand trial in Peoria County Circuit Court on charges of heinous battery, a Class X felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and aggravated battery. However, the charges were dismissed about halfway through the morning session, leaving Hardy, of 2202 N. Northcrest, and her family jubilant.

On June 2, 2006, Hardy's older sister and another woman, then 38, were arguing in the 200 block of Thrush Avenue. At some point, Hardy threw the bleach in the woman's face to break up the fight, court records indicate.

Shortly thereafter, Hardy was arrested and initially charged as a juvenile, but the case was moved to adult court after a judge ruled it was necessary to protect the public.

Vandals break mailboxes in Lake Camelot

MAPLETON - Vandals damaged more than a dozen mailboxes at Lake Camelot and wreaked havoc on more mailboxes in a neighboring subdivision over the weekend.

A Peoria County sheriff's deputy was called early Saturday to the 10000 block of Lake Camelot Drive after a resident awoke to find his mailbox tampered with. In all, 17 mailboxes were damaged.

On Sunday, a resident living in the 4200 block of Walnut Point Drive, located east of Lake Camelot, complained that someone had driven into his mailbox post, knocking off the mailbox and breaking it, reports said.

Three other mailboxes on Walnut Point were either damaged, left open or left open with mail strewn about the street.

In the 8100 block of Pfeiffer Road, vandals bent the mailbox, tore down numerous bird feeders on the property, yanked yard plants out of the ground and threw lawn ornaments around the yard.

Five blocks away, in the 8600 block of Pfeiffer, police found another busted mailbox.

No damage estimate was available.

Peorian, 51, faces 7 years in prison for battery plea

PEORIA - A 51-year-old man faces up to seven years in prison for hitting his former girlfriend with a handgun.

Fredrick T. Jemison, 1918 W. Garden St., pleaded "blind" or without a sentencing agreement in Peoria County Circuit Court to possession of a stolen firearm and aggravated battery for the Nov. 2, 2006, incident.

In return, more serious charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted aggravated battery with a firearm and attempted aggravated discharge of a firearm as well as lesser charges of aggravated unlawful use of weapon and domestic battery were dropped.

Jemison went to the home of Roberta Norris, then 50, in the 1800 block of South Kneer Avenue. He had a stolen gun and tried to shoot her, but the gun didn't fire, said Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Shelby.

The two struggled and at some point, he hit her with the gun. She refused medical treatment.

Jemison's sentencing is set for Nov. 9, said his attorney, Thomas Iben.

Probation given to postal worker for opening mail

PEORIA - A former employee at Peoria's post office was sentenced Monday to federal probation for removing greeting and birthday cards from the mail and taking money that was inside.

Jerry Redshaw, 46, had waived indictment by a federal grand jury in May and pleaded guilty to one count of theft by a postal employee. In addition to the probation, he was sentenced to four months home confinement and two months work release, said his attorney Kevin Sullivan.

Beginning in 2006 and lasting until March, Redshaw, who was the supervisor of distribution operations at the Postal Service's Downtown branch, removed colored envelopes from the mail. He would take them to his car and then open them, pocketing what was inside, according to his plea agreement.

A postal inspector saw him doing so in March and later found more than 60 pieces of mail in his car. Also recovered was some money, a savings bond and a credit card, according to his plea agreement.

Redshaw told authorities he took the items because he was in a financial bind. He admitted to taking the mail two to three times each week, getting between $5 and $20 each time.

Peoria teen pleads guilty for his role in sex assault

PEORIA - A 16-year-old South Peoria boy pleaded guilty for taking part in the sexual assault of a mentally impaired girl in July 2006.

Rauricker D. West, 2737 W. Trewyn Ave., Apt. 143, pleaded as part of an agreement with Peoria County prosecutors that set his prison term at six years. Under state law, he would have to serve at least 85 percent of that sentence.

Without the agreement, he would have faced a maximum of 30 years behind bars for aggravated criminal sexual assault.

Assistant State's Attorney David Gast said the girl, then 17, was walking in the 2200 block of West Hayes Street when two people, Kiar Young, 18, and West, then 14, approached her and began to shout at her. The girl ran down an alley where West allegedly knocked her down and held her while Young assaulted her. West then hit the girl, according to court records.

West was initially charged as a juvenile, but the case was moved to the adult felony division last year. Young pleaded to the same charge and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Peorian, 16, pleads guilty to armed robbery

PEORIA - A 16-year-old Peoria youth faces up to eight years in prison for robbing another person at gunpoint earlier this year.

John L. Carter, 1909 W. Ann St., pleaded guilty Monday in Peoria County Circuit Court to one count of armed robbery as part of a deal with prosecutors that capped any prison term at eight years. He faced up to 30 years. Also, lesser charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and aggravated unlawful use of weapons were dismissed.

His age and the charges made the case an automatic transfer from juvenile court to the adult felony division under state law. Normally, prosecutors would have to argue reasons why a juvenile should be tried as an adult.

According to Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Shelby, the victim was walking in an alley near his house and told police he was approached by a man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. The robber took his wallet and his cell phone, the man told police.

A short time later, police arrested Carter and found a handgun in his pocket.

Carter remains in custody at the county's Juvenile Detention Center pending his Nov. 2 sentencing.

Heights man loses motion to reduce prison sentence

PEORIA - A local judge on Monday denied a motion to reconsider a 14-year sentence he handed down last Friday for a Peoria Heights man convicted of running away from the police.

Sterling Johnson, 32, whose last known address was 3827 N. St. Joseph Court, was found guilty after a July jury trial of escape after he was stopped by police in March 2006.

His attorney, Mark Rose, argued Friday that 14 years, the maximum for escape, was too high given Johnson's criminal history, which has many cases but few convictions. Prosecutor Brian FitzSimons, however, argued that given Johnson's record, a stiff sentence was merited.

Police had stopped Johnson's car and found some drugs. When they went to arrest him, he ran away and was arrested after a brief struggle.

After Circuit Judge Michael Brandt denied the motion, Johnson indicated he would appeal.

With credit for time served and day-for-day "good-time" credit, he could get out of prison in less than six years.

Churchgoers stop man stealing collection money

Peoria - A self-confessed drug addict allegedly tried to steal $50 during Sunday morning services at a South Peoria church.

According to police reports, the thief walked into Christ Lutheran Church, 2020 W. Malone St., about 8:50 a.m. and sat down in a pew near the front of the sanctuary. There, he grabbed an envelope containing $50 from an offering plate and started to leave, reports stated.

A struggle broke out in the back of the church after two parishioners followed the man. He reportedly told them he was a drug addict who needed the cash.

After he lost hold of the money, he ran out of the building and was last seen heading north on South Madison Park Terrace.

Peoria man gets 8 years prison for burglary

PEORIA - A Peoria man was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for breaking into a home on Krause Street earlier this year.

Michael Madura, 26, 2016 S. Stanley St., pleaded guilty in Peoria County Circuit Court to one count of residential burglary. He had faced up to 30 years in prison on the charge because of his past criminal history which required him to be sentenced harshly.

Normally, residential burglary carries a maximum of 15 years behind bars.

On March 14, Madura broke into the Krause Street home and took an Xbox and a tub full of baseball cards. He was caught about a week later when he went to the victim's house and offered to sell him a washer and dryer, said Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Shelby in open court.

When the victim went to the suspect's house, he saw the tub of cards.

In an unrelated case, Gregory G. Cook, 36, 1353 N. Second St., Apt. 2, Chillicothe, pleaded blind, or without an agreement, to two counts of residential burglary for two December 2005 break-ins in Chillicothe.

Like Madura, his past record also exposed him to a 30-year sentencing range. Prosecutor David Gast said in both cases, jewelry was taken. At one of the homes, a firearm was stolen.

Cook faces up to 10 years when sentenced in November.

Both men are eligible for day for day "good-time" credit.

Peoria teen gets 3 years in sexual abuse case

PEORIA - For sexually abusing a younger boy, a 16-year-old Peoria youth was sentenced Monday to three years in prison.

Cash Ballew, 1903 W. Hayes St., pleaded guilty in Peoria County Circuit Court to one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse as part of a deal with prosecutors. In return, he got the minimum prison sentence, and two more serious charges of criminal sexual assault were dismissed.

Earlier this year, his case was moved from juvenile court to the adult felony division by a juvenile judge who cited the amount of time and the severity of the attacks as reasons to move the matter.

Ballew, who had no criminal record, was accused of abusing a person younger than 18 for at least the past five years. The abuse was discovered by an adult earlier this year, said Assistant State's Attorney Brian FitzSimons.

The prosecutor told Circuit Judge Michael Brandt that the victim agreed with the sentence.

With credit for time served, Ballew could get out in less than two years, said his attorney Robert Gaubas.

Have a thought on this issue? Share it by leaving a message at (309) 687-8439 or e-mailing youpage@pjstar.com. Comments may appear in the Journal Starís YOUPage on Friday.

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There are 8 comments
Bob – P-Town
September 25, 2007 - 16:57
Subject: Lake Camelot

Hey, I hear that Lake Camelot has a large population of swingers.

September 25, 2007 - 08:22

Lake Camelot...Goffy Ridge......What's the differance?

Reply to db
September 25, 2007 - 10:48

Residents of Lake Camelot can spell. Goffy Ridge residents are Goofy. :-)

Reply to db
September 25, 2007 - 12:08

What's the difference? How about a front door, and about 200K dollars for the price of a home.

September 25, 2007 - 07:35

How does someone get the MINIMUM sentence for sexual abuse to a child that took place over a period of 5 YEARS!?!

The length of time involved clearly demonstrates socio-pathic behavior. Does the state's attorney truly believe that children will be safe when Cash Ballew is released in less than 2 YEARS? The victim will carry his burden much longer than that.

Reply to Joe
Christina – Peoria, IL
September 25, 2007 - 08:14

I so agree with you....He admitted that he did it and receives the minimum...while a guy I know who adamently says he is innocent received 14 years and must serve 11....this raises some questions about the justice system that we all should be asking....

Reply to Joe
September 25, 2007 - 08:25

It's not about the crime .. It has ALWAYS been about who can talk the smoothest and convince the judge for a light sentence. We need Judges and States Attorneys who will make the "Punishment" fit the crime. BUT hay.. that's just my thoughts.

September 25, 2007 - 07:05

We had looked at a house in Lake Camelot during the spring/early summer and thank God we did not move there. Between the school district and the apparent degenerates in lake Camelot it definitely doesn't seem like a good place to bring your family.

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