January 30, 2015

Arrest made in fatal NW Wisconsin hit-and-run

A Barron County man faces charges of homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle, in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a pedestrian. Deputies took 33-year-old Jim Lo of Barron into custody on Thursday afternoon.

The victim, 26-year-old Logan L. Paulson of Almena, was discovered along U.S. Highway 8 between Almena and Turtle Lake. Paulson was pronounced dead at the scene Thursday morning. An initial investigation indicated that Paulson was walking along the highway when struck by a vehicle sometime during the night.

Lo is being held in the Barron County Jail. The case has been referred to the Barron County District Attorney’s Office on formal charges expected next week. The case is still under investigation by the Barron County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Marathon County sounding the alarm on methamphetamines

Public health and law enforcement agencies in Marathon County are launching a new effort to combat the rising use of methamphetamines in the area.

A broad coalition met in Wausau Tuesday to kick off the Pushback Against Drugs Initiative, which comes in response to an increase in meth use that has mirrored an uptick in heroin abuse in the state. Marathon County sheriff Scott Parks says they’re hoping the effort can bring the same sort of attention to the problem. “If you can bring a community’s attention to, say, a methamphetamine problem, and cause them to rally to try and correct that or cause individuals to do lifestyle change, that’s a key factor.”

Marathon County booked 1237 people last year for controlled substance violations alone, and Parks said “when you figure that the average daily cost to house an individual in the Marathon County jail is 50 dollars, you’re look at approximately $3 million in housing costs just for a controlled substance problem.”

But it’s not just substance abuse itself that becomes an issue. Parks said the county also has to deal with the aftermath of those crimes and the toll they bring to the families of the people harmed by the crimes that get committed by drug users. “Those same persons are involved in other types of crime. Crimes against persons such as domestic violence, aggravated battery or robbery, or crimes against property such as burglary, theft, criminal damage to property, and these are committed by people who are either under the influence, or are attempting to support a controlled substance habit.”

Parks said some estimates say 70 percent of the crime committed in Marathon County have ties to drug use. “If we can make an impact and cause some people not to use substances or to make the right choice, that’s going to be a cost savings across the entire community.”


Kenosha arrests tied to murder in Alabama

An illegally parked car and shoplifting arrests in Wisconsin led to the discovery of a body – and murder charges – in Alabama. Kenosha police were called to a grocery store on January 13th, after security spotted a man and woman each stealing vodka and energy drinks. They were detained, and connected to a parked car at bus stop outside the store. The vehicle turned out to be stolen from Alabama, and tied to a missing man.

Using evidence found in the car, including blood in the trunk, a 32-year-old man was arrested in Alabama for murder, and on Tuesday the body of victim David Hayes was located. The two people arrested in Kenosha – 30-year-old Stephanie Underwood and 33-year-old Matthew Thrasher – are now awaiting extradition to Alabama on theft charges.


Wisconsin mining activist gets jail time

Katie Kloth

Katie Kloth

A Wisconsin woman convicted of causing damage during a 2013 protest at the site of the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills has been sentenced to nine months in jail. Katie Kloth of Weston was leader of a group that threw cans and water bottles at workers and damaged equipment.

Kloth became enraged with a worker videotaping their activities, and she and an accomplice took away the video camera and the camera operator’s cellphone. The protesters harassed workers for about an hour and fled the scene just before sheriff’s deputies arrived at the site.

Normally, a first time offender might get off with only probation. Judge Douglas Fox ordered the jail time and five years of probation after telling Kloth, “You’re a zealot and feel strongly about mining, but this had nothing to do with mining. This was an assault on people.” Fox also ordered Kloth to pay $2,400 dollars in restitution.


Wisconsin dad Armin Wand seeking new trial

Armin Wand

Armin Wand

A request has been made for a new trial in a deadly arson case in southern Wisconsin. Armin Wand, the Argyle man who set a 2012 house fire that killed his three young sons, wants a new trial. Wand is asking a Layfayette County judge to withdraw his guilty plea, saying he was “tricked” into confessing to crimes he did not commit. Wand’s attorney said that if the motion is denied, she’ll take it to an appellate court.

Wand and his younger brother were convicted of starting the fire at Armin’s rented home in the fall of 2012. In addition to killing the three little boys, Wand’s wife was extensively burned and she lost the baby she was carrying. A 2-year-old daughter barely escaped injury. Armin wand tried to place the little girl back into the burning home, but was interrupted.

As for a motive, investigators determined that Wand hoped to collect on insurance money. Incidentally, Wand wasn’t current with his payments on that policy so he wouldn’t have been able to collect if he wanted to.