Police and Courts | WGLT

Police and Courts

UPDATE: Prosecutors say they will not file charges against an Urbana man who was arrested Monday, after he posted a photo of himself burning an American flag on Facebook.

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said in a news release Tuesday that her office would not file flag desecration and disorderly conduct charges against Bryton Mellott “as the act of burning a flag is protected free speech according to the US Supreme Court decision, Texas v. Johnson, 491 US 397 (1989)”.


Colleagues, friends and family members are paying tribute to Abner Mikva, a former Illinois congressman and judge who died Monday at age 90.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he regarded Mikva as his "North Star for integrity, independence and progressive values." Durbin says Mikva's "record of public service was proof that the good guys can win without selling their souls."

Steve Petteway / Staff Photographer Supreme Court

The absence of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a big difference in the last session of the high court. That's according to ISU scholar Meghan Leonard. Leonard told Charlie Schlenker not only were the four to four cases a big deal, but some of the 5-3 decisions would have had different emphasis if Scalia were there.

The death of not only affected the decisions handed down in the just completed term of the court, it is shifting what will happen next year too. Leonard said the court has not picked chosen many, if any, blockbuster cases to hear next term.

Federal prosecutors say a Peoria man enticed at least seven minors to have sex with him based on false claims he was a pornography performer.

Court Rules PTSD Should Qualify For Medical Marijuana

Jun 29, 2016
Mike Hager / Vancouver Sun

A Cook County judge has sided with a veteran from Urbana and ordered the state to add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana.

Judge Neil Cohen ordered the Department of Public Health's director to add PTSD within 30 days. The sternly worded ruling says Director Nirav Shah “engaged in a private investigation, hidden from public view'' that was “constitutionally inappropriate.''

Creative Commons

Authorities in McLean County have found five malnourished horses, and one has been euthanized. Sheriff Jon Sandage says a neighbor tipped off deputies to the horses.

Jesse Faber

Damage assessment and cleanup has begun in Pontiac after a tornado tore through the west and south parts of town Wednesday night. Mayor Robert Russell said the tornado clipped about two blocks of residential housing on the south end of the city, causing some injuries in a mobile home park.

"The good news is that nobody critical. Some broken bones and maybe a broken hip and some cuts and bruises, but if you saw the devastation that went through, we're very very fortunate," said the Mayor.

NOAA Archive / Creative Commons

Editor's Note: This story has been updated

At least one tornado struck Pontiac, Illinois Wednesday night causing heavy damage and at least three injuries. Information is still being collected by fire and law enforcement officials, though some reports indicate children were among those injured when a mobile home was destroyed. The Fire Department said overnight "some injuries appeared to be somewhat serious."

Normal Police Department

Police in Normal and Bloomington are looking for a man they believe has committed child sexual abuse. 24-year old Deondre A. Watts is believe to have left the state for now.

Tim Evanson / Flickr

In the wake of the deadly terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando one leader in the gay community said he's feeling hopeful.

David Bentlin is the President of the Prairie Pride Coalition Board. The group is dedicated to the implementation of full civil rights protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.


Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has returned to the floor of the House of Representatives for the first time since his resignation.


More than 12 years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast, a fraud case involving State Farm Insurance will go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices have agreed to hear arguments in the Bloomington-based company's appeal of 758,000 dollars in damages.

Tannen Maury / EPA

An Illinois lawmaker is pushing legislation to take away former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's taxpayer-funded state pension following his conviction in a hush-money case.  

Hastert receives a $28,000 annual pension from Illinois' General Assembly Retirement System from his service in the Legislature. Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant's bill introduced Tuesday would revoke pensions for lawmakers who commit a felony against a student or other victim.  

A 22-year-old man from Heyworth has drowned as part of a dirt bike crash. McLean County Coroner Kathy Davis said Andrew Johnson sustained a blunt force head injury during a dirt bike crash in a wooded area north of 510 North Buchanan in Heyworth late Saturday afternoon. Davis said the crash likely rendered him unconscious when he entered the water. The case remains under investigation by the coroner's office and the McLean County Sheriff's Department.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

After a decade of lawsuits, Unit Five has settled the final case involving a victim of convicted child molester Jon Andrew White. White was a Unit Five teacher, who later got a job in Urbana schools and continued molesting students.

Bloomington Police Department

It has been three years since someone killed 26-year old Haileigh Eichorn of Bloomington. And police spokeswoman Sara Mayer says detectives are not dropping the investigation.

flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

Bloomington Police say a man robbed the Dollar General store in the 900 block of East Oakland Avenue at gunpoint.

Bloomington Police Department

Bloomington police have released two videos of a man applying tar to a downtown bench (scroll down to see videos). The man is unidentifiable in both videos.

The department is ended its investigation on May 12 into an incident last month in which tar was spread over a public bench in an apparent effort to deter a homeless man from using the bench.

The man's only set of clothes was ruined.

Police say they have insufficient evidence to make an arrest.

Police in Normal are asking for public input into a gunfire incident Sunday morning.

Assistant Chief Eric Klingele says the call came in about 5:36 a.m. in the 500 block of Normal Avenue, in the University Court area. Several shots were fired.

A Dodge Charger parked on the street was struck. No injuries were reported. Klingele says officers are interviewing witnesses at the party that turned into a fight among five or six college age people at a rented house. 

Hastert Sentenced To Prison

Apr 27, 2016
Tannen Maury / EPA

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison for breaking federal banking rules in a scheme to cover up sexual abuse.

Jim Larrison

Studies show prisoners who stay connected with their families have lower recidivism. 

Yet, the cost of keeping in touch is proving quite high for many.  Prison phone call rates are unregulated.  In Illinois, that's resulted in some hefty bills.  Danielle Chynoweth of Urbana is with the Center for Media Justice, which has worked on this issue nationally.  

"One third of families of the incarcerated went into debt to pay for phone calls and visits alone.  These are people taking out loans to pay their phone calls," Chynoweth said.

Lawyers say Imprisoned Peoria Man Innocent of Murder

Apr 22, 2016
Cass Herrington / IPR

Attorneys in Peoria filed a joint petition Thursday in hopes of reopening a more than 45-year-old murder case involving the killing of a police officer.

Scott Proctor / Flickr via Creative Commons

Formal steps by a state's attorney in Illinois to permanently dismiss the case against a man he believes was wrongly convicted in a 1957 killing have not deterred the victim's brother from seeking the appointment of a special prosecutor.

A McLean County Jury has convicted a man of beating his mother into critical condition for dancing with a man of a different ethnic race. The McLean County State's Attorney's Office says Roger Kinnerson's Aggravated Domestic Battery Conviction will involve class X sentencing because of his prior record.

Colleen Reynolds

Most people get their information about police work from TV but some area residents learned first-hand that even reality shows like “Cops” don’t do justice to real life experiences of officers on patrol every day. That's just some of what was on display the second annual Law Enforcement Educational Summit at Illinois State University Tuesday night.

Bloomington's Administrative Court Could See Changes

Apr 18, 2016
City of Bloomington

Some new things could be added to Bloomington’s Administrative Court that are expected to improve the process. The court was established last year to make it easier for the city to enforce property and behavioral code violations. Deputy Corporation Counsel Angela Fyans-Jimenez said the court has been “very successful” since its creation last April.

Champaign Fires Police Officer

Apr 14, 2016
Daniel Schwen / Flickr via Creative Commons

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb has fired an officer who was the subject of a series of lawsuits alleging excessive force.


Former McLean County Judge Charles "Chuck" Witte has died at the age of 74 after a lengthy battle battle with cancer. 

Witte, who retired in 2001, was deeply involved in the community, serving BroMenn Healthcare, Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State Universities, the Kiwanis, and many other institutions.

Police Give Citizens Look Inside Profession

Apr 11, 2016
Keith Allison / Flickr via Creative Commons

People will be able to get some idea what it's like to be a police officer at an event Saturday April 19th. The second Law Enforcement Education Summit is at Illinois State University's Horton Field House. Bloomington Police Chief Brenden Heffner says the event was so popular in it's inaugural year at the Armory, they are moving it to a bigger space. Chief Heffner says visitors had their favorites among the displays and demonstrations.


The Bloomington Police Department says it can't prove who drove over grave markers and damaged them in connection with a Donald Trump rally. The department says it has declined to file charges in the case.