All Courts, Police, and Fire Content

All Courts, Police, and Fire Content

County courts hoping help is on the way

URBANA – A week wouldn't be complete if Presiding Judge Tom Difanis didn't get a letter from a criminal defendant complaining about his public defender.

The theme is usually the same: the attorney hasn't spent enough time with the client.

Woman, three youths escape fire

CHAMPAIGN – A woman, two teen-age daughters and a younger child escaped a house fire in Champaign on Tuesday.

Champaign fire spokeswoman Dena Schumacher said the fire was caused by a smoked cigarette that had been left on the floor of a small back porch just off the kitchen at 511 E. Washington St.

Centennial High School fire 'intentionally set'

CHAMPAIGN – Authorities continue to investigate who set a fire that caused toxic smoke and an evacuation at Champaign Centennial High School.

The school reopened for classes today after dismissing early Monday afternoon.

Police arrest suspect in recent attacks in Orchard Downs

URBANA – University of Illinois police on Thursday arrested a Champaign man near where two women reported attacks this week.

UI police arrested Jermain D. Dixon, 22, of the 1100 block of North Hickory Street, Champaign, shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday in the 1900 block of South Orchard Street in Urbana.

Mother, abducted daughters reunited with help from Dr. Phil

PAXTON – From Canada to Central America – and with the reported help of television show host Dr. Phil McGraw – two daughters of a former Ford County deputy who had been missing for nearly a year are now with their mother, and their father faces charges of child abduction.

Michael Hari, 34, was arraigned Tuesday morning on charges of child abduction and interference with visitation rights.

Additional police officers will patrol campus area on Friday

CHAMPAIGN – Police will have extra patrols, and University of Illinois officials will be watching out for any problems this Friday during what has become known locally as "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day."

Champaign police Lt. Holly Nearing said there will be additional officers working that day, specifically assigned to work the campus area and adding staff for the morning and mid-day. They will look for and address problems, including binge drinking and underage drinking, she said.

Iowa man sentenced to 30 years in prison

URBANA – A Champaign County prosecutor Friday called Otto Haack's death in 1998 "the worst case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Assistant Champaign County State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said the 77-year-old Rantoul man had just left the CVS Pharmacy in Mahomet on Feb. 8, 1998, when an Iowa man en route home from Indiana whose car had broken down decided Mr. Haack's 1996 Saturn would be a good replacement.

Criminal charges filed against sheriff's deputy

URBANA – A Champaign County sheriff's deputy was criminally charged Thursday with official misconduct and disorderly conduct for harassing his estranged wife and a male friend of hers.

Ryan Garrett, 30, of rural Tolono, was suspended with pay on Dec. 17 from the job he's held since November 1997. Sheriff Dan Walsh said that he's requesting that the merit commission fire Garrett. A hearing before the commission is set for March 2.

Two men wounded in front of downtown Champaign tavern

CHAMPAIGN – Two men were wounded in a shooting in downtown Champaign early today.

The shooting occurred about 1:30 a.m. today in front of Tracks Sportsbar and Nightclub at the old train station at 116 N. Chestnut St., according to Champaign police spokeswoman Joan Walls.

Charges dismissed against man accused of killing wife

PAXTON – A Gibson City man accused of murdering his wife last fall is a free man this morning.

Due to the inadmissibility of a key piece of evidence and the unavailability of a witness, Ford County State's Attorney Tony Lee on Tuesday dismissed murder charges against Robert Osborne.