Crime and Courts | WGLT

Crime and Courts

Police and prosecutors in McLean County Board room
Eric Stock / WGLT

McLean County prosecutors call it an unprecedented time in their office.

Barton McNeil
Illinois Department of Corrections

New evidence in the 1998 death of 3-year-old Christina McNeil exonerates her father of murder charges, according to a petition filed on Tuesday by lawyers for Bart McNeil.

First Assistant Public Defender Ron Lewis is among 11 candidates who have filed applications to succeed former McLean County Public Defender Carla Barnes, who recently was named a circuit judge.

U.S. Attorney's Office

A former technology employee for the Blue Ridge Community School District in Farmer City has admitted to a computer parts fraud scheme in federal court.

Arthur Haynes speaks
Ashley Binkowski / WGLT

Arthur Haynes says he is a rehabilitated man--a civic leader and entrepreneur, but someone who can’t run for elected office to represent his community because he still can’t get out from under court fines and fees that accumulated over 15 years.

Carla and Linda
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

When Carla Barnes closed a black robe around her shoulders for the first time on Thursday, she marked history as the first Black judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit.

six guns
Normal Police Deptartment

Authorities in Bloomington-Normal say the number of gun seizures rose significantly in 2020 with police seizing a total of 94 firearms. That's a third more than the 61 seized in in the two communities in 2019.

Sydney walks in
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

The McLean County  judge who will determine a verdict in the June 2018 triple homicide on Bloomington's Riley Drive heard opening statements Monday in the case against Sydney Mays.

Illegal guns seized
Bloomington Police

McLean County law enforcement agencies reported an average amount of gun violence in 2020. That’s a significant deviation from the national picture and the numbers in some other central Illinois communities.

Carla Barnes

McLean County Public Defender Carla Barnes has been appointed as the first Black woman to serve as a circuit judge in Illinois’ 11th Judicial Circuit.

Don Knapp
Eric Stock / WGLT

Law enforcement officials and prosecutors said they feel blindsided by a massive criminal justice reform bill introduced by the Black Democratic Caucus in the Illinois House, with police saying they are shocked and surprised at the timing and sweeping scope of the measure.

McLean County Law and Justice Center
Staff / WGLT

The pandemic has slowed programs in McLean County that help keep people out of prison and the county jail.

Michael Donavan, the county's court services director, said recovery court and drug court usually offer intensive therapy and other services, but they are not seeing as much use right now.

Federal prosecutors have charged two former employers of a central Illinois boat and watercraft dealership in an alleged $2 million fraud scheme.

Exterior of the BCPA
Chauncey Davis / Creative Commons

Bloomington performing arts manager James Mack has posted bond following his arrest on a domestic battery charge.

police tape

UPDATED 11:40 a.m. | The Woodford County sheriff's department says the armed-and-dangerous suspect in a string of vehicle thefts was spotted Sunday in rural Secor. He remains at large.

Staff / WGLT

Advocates of criminal justice reform in the United States have had several achievements in the last couple of years. Both sides of the aisle embraced calls for lower prison populations. A growing social movement calls for rehabilitation over punishment.

Kohls exterior
Jimmy Beach / Facebook

Residents of the Twin Cities were subjected to a night of fear and anarchy when looting broke out earlier this year, a judge said on Friday, as he agreed to give one of the looters a chance on probation.

Bags of methamphetamine in truck bed
Illinois State Police

Illinois State Police seized more than five pounds of methamphetamine following a traffic stop Tuesday in Livingston County.

Rica and Ann
Family Photo

When Ann Simmons last saw her daughter Rica Rountree alive on April 20, 2018, with obvious signs of abuse, she knew she had to change her life for the better if she was going to save her daughter’s life.

Cynthia and Rica
Police and Family Photos

The hastily concluded investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services into black eyes and bruises on a child who died weeks later of abuse is laid out in state records recently filed in a McLean County murder case.

Ann speaks
Edith Brady-Lunny / WGLT

After almost two years of waiting, Ann Simmons delivered a message Thursday to the woman who killed her daughter, 8-year-old Rica Rountree.

Judge looks at papers
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Scott Drazewski will retire Dec. 31 after 23 years on the bench, according to a statement Monday from Illinois State Supreme Court Justice Rita Garmin.

Aaron Parlier
Bloomington Police

Seven of Aaron Parlier’s former piano students should be allowed to testify at the first of six jury trials the Bloomington man will face on charges accusing him of sexual assault and child pornography, a prosecutor argued on Friday.


The McLean County chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense is mourning the shooting death of a 20-year-old man Monday afternoon in west Bloomington.

Police officers standing next to squad car, police tape
Eric Stock / WGLT

McLean County Coroner Kathy Yoder has released the name of the Bloomington man who was shot and killed Monday afternoon in a west Bloomington neighborhood.

Police cars behind police tape
Eric Stock / WGLT

UPDATED 7:30 p.m. | A 20-year-old man was killed and two others were critically injured in a shooting Monday afternoon on Bloomington's west side, authorities said.

Grampsas sits in court
David Proeber / The Pantagraph (Pool)

A Decatur man has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for his part in the 2018 murder of a 20-year-old Bloomington man.

Art Taylor speaks
Mary Cullen / WGLT

A Bloomington couple known for their community involvement say a weekend encounter with police and a seemingly hostile neighbor shows Bloomington-Normal still has plenty of work to do to bridge the racial divide.

concrete barriers on truck bed
Colleen Reynolds

Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said Tuesday he hopes the arrests of nearly 20 people on looting and other charges stemming from this week's vandalism in Bloomington-Normal will curtail the crime spree.

Broken glass case
Eric Stock / WGLT

The vandalism and looting that has hit Bloomington-Normal in recent days isn't limited to major retailers. Some of it has been happening in neighborhoods.