All Courts, Police, and Fire Content

All Courts, Police, and Fire Content

Ex-council member Pirtle to be tried this summer

URBANA – Former Champaign City Council member J.W. Pirtle will be tried this summer on involuntary manslaughter charges, in the wake of a judge's ruling validating the search of a home where a man died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Pirtle, 72, was indicted in September 2004 for involuntary manslaughter, a felony, and misdemeanor criminal housing management, in connection with the Jan. 29, 2004, death of Otha Lee Harmon, 41.

Group focuses on keeping system equal for all

URBANA – Disturbed by what it calls a "miscarriage of justice" in local courts, a new watchdog group is launching a criminal justice reform movement in Champaign County.

Community Court Watch formed two months ago, in part to focus public attention on the upcoming retrial of activist Patrick Thompson on home invasion and sexual abuse charges. He is accused of an attack on a neighbor in August 2004; his first trial ended in a hung jury.

Some counties to lose funds for enforcement

Dozens of alleged drug dealers were caught in a federally-funded sweep in several locations in East Central Illinois, but looming budget cuts would severely hamper such efforts, officials said Friday.

The Vermilion County Metropolitan Enforcement Group announced on Friday that officers arrested 25 people on Thursday who allegedly sold crack cocaine to undercover agents between March 15 and April 17.

Ruling means man may be tried for killing

SPRINGFIELD – An appeals court has overturned a Champaign County judge's ruling that threw out a man's murder indictment because he wasn't brought to trial within 120 days.

The ruling by the 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield means that Ramone D. Roebuck, 30, may be tried for the July 1, 2003, murder of Helen Melchi. The 84-year-old woman was found dead in her home at 1301 N. Hickory St., C, by relatives. She had been beaten and strangled, bound and gagged.

Police chief credits citizen for quick arrests

RANTOUL – Rantoul Police Chief Paul Farber said officers were quickly able to apprehend the men who robbed a Rantoul credit union on Monday thanks to help from an ordinary citizen.

Farber credited a passing motorist who flagged down Rantoul police Officer Joel McQueen after seeing armed men wearing blue ski masks walking into the Community Plus Federal Credit Union, 526 E. Champaign Ave., at 4:12 p.m. Monday.

Robbery similar to crimes around Kankakee

URBANA – Some of the six men accused of robbing a Rantoul credit union at gunpoint Monday are believed to be involved in several "takeover" armed robberies, according to the police chief in Kankakee.

A sixth man appeared Wednesday in federal court in Urbana on charges of armed robbery of the Community Plus Federal Credit Union, 526 E. Champaign St., Rantoul.

5 men charged in credit union robbery

RANTOUL – Two of the five men accused of robbing a Rantoul credit union at gunpoint Monday admitted their roles after their arrests and implicated the others, according to federal court records.

Charged Tuesday with armed robbery of the Community Plus Federal Credit Union, 526 E. Champaign Ave., were: Ahshun T. Collins, 26; Clinton Williams, 33; Rory Tucker, 20; Brad O. Williams, 27; and Bobby L.Riley, 19. Magistrate Judge David Bernthal ruled there was probable cause to go forward to a federal grand jury with the charges and ordered their detention.

Five men in custody following robbery of Rantoul credit union

RANTOUL – Rantoul police arrested five men Monday afternoon in the armed robbery of a Rantoul credit union, following a chase that led officers through a town park where baseball and softball games were being played.

Rantoul police Sgt. Jeff Wooten said police believe one more man who was not caught may have been involved in the holdup of the Community Plus Federal Credit Union, 526 E. Champaign Ave., which is across the street from Rantoul Township High School.

Courtroom animations questioned

Increasingly sophisticated and at the same time easier to do with the ready availability of the necessary hardware and software, animations made for court cases are supposed to assist juries in doing their jobs better.

The idea is that the minimovies can help folks weighing responsibility in a traffic accident, for instance, or trying to sort out indications from a crime scene understand the evidence more clearly and reduce the influence of biases they may have.

Policing our schools: Urbana's Cory Koker

Urbana school resource officer Cory Koker is charged with patrolling all nine public schools, with a focus on the middle and high schools. In his four-day, 40-hour workweek, Koker has a mass of responsibility. News-Gazette reporter Amy F. Reiter and photographer Robin Scholz tailed him on Wednesday to find out just how much.