(Mountain Home) – A Mountain Home couple was arrested this past Thursday afternoon by investigators after they allegedly broke into some resort cabins on Bull Shoals Lake.
55-year-old Michelle Wickser and 54-year-old Roger Wickser were arrested and charged with with criminal mischief and commercial burglary.
The resort owners reported that they discovered the Wicksers living in one of their resort cabins without permission. According to the victims, the cabin was damaged, and wax had been poured down the kitchen sink. The amount of rent and damage was estimated to be $1,000. The victims were reportedly given three different credit cards by the couple, but they were all declined.
Both Wicksers were held on $5000 bond each, which was posted. They are scheduled to appear in court on December 4.
(St. Louis) – Gov. Jay Nixon has issued the following statement regarding the announcement of the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision in the investigation into the death of Michael Brown:
While the 12 men and women on the St. Louis County grand jury have concluded their work, the rest of us have much more work to do in order to use the lessons we have learned these past four months to create safer, stronger and more united communities.
As we continue to await word on the U.S. Justice Department’s ongoing investigation, I urge all those voicing their opinions regarding the grand jury’s decision to do so peacefully. I also urge everyone to continue working to make positive changes that will yield long-term social, economic and spiritual benefits for all our communities.
My commitment to the people of the region and state is this: I will do everything in my power to keep you safe and protect your right to speak. We must also make a commitment to one another: to trust more and fear less, to hold ourselves to a higher standard of personal responsibility and mutual respect, and to keep working to extend the promise of America to all our citizens.
It is my continued hope and expectation that peace will prevail. The world is watching. I am confident that together we will demonstrate the true strength and character of this region, and seize this opportunity to build a more just and prosperous future for all.
(St. Louis) (AP) – A Missouri grand jury heard evidence for months as it weighed whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, which was followed by sometimes violent protests. The grand jury results are expected to be released at 8 PM tonight.
Here are some answers to common questions about the grand jury:
Q: What was the grand jury deciding?
A: The grand jury considered whether there is enough evidence to charge Wilson with a crime and, if so, what that charge should be.
Q: How was the grand jury different from other juries?
A: The grand jury can determine only whether probable cause exists to indict Wilson, not whether he is guilty. If the jury indicts him, a separate trial jury will be seated to decide whether to convict or acquit him.
Q: How many people were on the grand jury and how were they selected?
A: The grand jury was composed of 12 people “selected at random from a fair cross-section of the citizens,” according to Missouri law. The jury was 75 percent white: six white men, three white women, two black women and one black man. St. Louis County overall is 70 percent white, but about two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are black. Brown was black. The officer is white.
Q: Was the grand jury appointed for this specific case?
A: No. It was appointed for a four-month term. The grand jury had been hearing routine cases around the time Brown was killed and then turned its attention to the shooting.
The jury’s term was due to expire Sept. 10. That same day, county Judge Carolyn Whittington extended the term to Jan. 7 – the longest extension allowable by state law. The investigation was always expected to go longer than the typical grand jury term.
Q: How often did the grand jurors meet?
A: Their normal schedule was to meet once a week.
Q: Who was inside the grand jury room?
A: The jury, a prosecutor and a witness. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public.
Q: What happened when the grand jury convened?
A: Prosecutors presented evidence and summoned witnesses to testify. A grand jury is a powerful tool for investigating crimes because witnesses must testify unless they invoke the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against self-incrimination.
Typically, grand jurors hear a condensed version of the evidence that might be presented at a trial. In the Ferguson case, grand jurors are receiving more extensive evidence and testimony.
Q: Who testified to the grand jury?
A: The only witnesses known for certain to have testified were Wilson and Dr. Michael Baden, who performed a private autopsy on Brown on behalf of his family. But other witnesses and experts may also have appeared.
Q: What charges could be filed?
A: At the lower end is second-degree involuntary manslaughter, which is defined as acting with criminal negligence to cause a death. It is punishable by up to four years in prison.
First-degree involuntary manslaughter, defined as recklessly causing a death, is punishable by up to seven years in prison. Voluntary manslaughter, defined as causing a death “under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause,” is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Second-degree murder is defined as knowingly causing a death, or acting with the purpose of causing serious physical injury that ends up resulting in death. It is punishable by life in prison or a range of 10 to 30 years.
The most serious charge, first-degree murder, can be used only when someone knowingly causes a death after deliberation and is punishable by either life in prison or lethal injection.
Q: Do charges require a unanimous vote?
A: No. Consent from nine jurors is enough to file a charge in Missouri. The jury could also choose not to file any charges.
Q: What will be publicly disclosed when grand jurors reach a decision?
A: If Wilson is charged, the indictment will be made public, but the evidence will be kept secret for use at a trial. If Wilson is not indicted, McCulloch has said he will take the unusual step of releasing transcripts and audio recordings of the grand jury investigation.
Q: What preparations have been made?
A: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to help state and local police in case of civil unrest. At least one school district called off classes for Monday and Tuesday. Police have undergone training pertaining to protesters’ constitutional rights and have purchased more equipment, such as shields, helmets, smoke canisters and rubber bullets.
(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson says a key legislative leader will be his budget director after he takes office next year.
Hutchinson on Monday named Republican state Rep. Duncan Baird of Lowell to serve as his budget director. Baird is currently the co-chairman of the Joint Budget Committee and ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for state treasurer in May.
Hutchinson also said campaign spokesman J.R. Davis would serve as his communications director and campaign manager Jon Gilmore would be his deputy chief of staff.
Hutchinson is a Republican. He defeated Democrat and fellow ex-congressman Mike Ross in the Nov. 4 election and will replace Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who is leaving office in January due to term limits. Hutchinson will be inaugurated Jan. 13.
by Samantha Warner, Communications Coordinator
(Springfield) – It’s not a weed you have seen before, and it is taking over your pasture. It is also getting dangerously close to your perfectly manicured yard. Your neighbors don’t have a clue what it is. Your friends are stumped. You’re planning on taking a sample to Thanksgiving to ask the family if they’ve ever seen it, but you aren’t holding your breath. What else can you do? Visit the Midwest Weeds website of course!
The Midwest Weeds website (http://courses.missouristate.edu/pbtrewatha/Midwest_Weeds.htm) is the ongoing project of Dr. Pamela Trewatha, horticulture professor in the Darr School of Agriculture. Trewatha said the site began as a study-aid for her weed ecology and management and weed identification courses. However, since its inception it has evolved into a companion project to the weed identification manual she is writing. It has even gained international attention, as people from countries such as Australia, Jordan, Argentina, Canada and Viet Nam have requested to use pictures from the website.
The website is organized into four categories: turf grass; crop and garden; pasture, range and roadside; and aquatic and wetland weeds. Those four categories are then divided into common and scientific names. Most weed entries include multiple pictures, a written description and control practices. It’s a one-stop-shop for weed identification and control methods.
Trewatha said, “I enjoy updating the website and particularly answering weed identification inquiries that it appears to generate.”
If the website doesn’t include the weed you’re trying to identify, you can contact Trewatha at email@example.com or (417) 836-5097. With such a comprehensive resource available, don’t let that out-of-control weed take over your pasture and yard.
Direct comments or questions concerning this column to Samantha Warner via email at SamanthaWarner@Missouristate.edu; write to Missouri State University Darr School of Agriculture, 901 S. National Ave., Springfield, MO 65897; or call (417) 836-5092. Visit our website at http://ag.missouristate.edu.
(Ferguson) – Multiple media outlets are reporting that a St. Louis County grand jury has completed deliberations in the case of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen in August touched off weeks of sometimes violent protests.
CNN and The Washington Post are reporting that prosecutor Robert McCulloch will announce later today whether Wilson will face charges in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed August 9.
Police have said Brown struggled with Wilson inside his police car, then reached for Wilson’s weapon. Brown’s family and some witnesses say Wilson killed Brown as he raised his hands in surrender.
Some Ferguson-area schools have been closed and the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security and several law enforcement vehicles, have been seen in the area, while barricades have been set up to help control protests near the courthouse in St. Louis and in downtown Ferguson.
Earlier this month, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the state’s National Guard to help with law enforcement efforts.
John Bacon and Yamiche Alcindor from USA Today contributed to this report.
(Willow Springs) – A boil water advisory issued in Willow Springs last week has been lifted.
The advisory affected the Willow Springs Apartments and the Willow Care Nursing Home complex on the south side of Highway 76 and homes from County Road 5250 to Z Highway on the north side of Highway 76.
Iff you have any questions, please feel free to contact Willow Springs City Hall at 417-469-2107.
(St. Louis) – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has released the following statement after a grand jury failed to return an indictment against Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson:
“There will be many people who are disappointed in today’s decision, even though it is a result of a deliberate legal process that’s being independently checked by Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department. While we await the conclusion of that independent investigation—and continue working together for solutions to systemic issues highlighted by this tragedy—I’m praying that the good people of St. Louis and local law enforcement will remain peaceful and respectful of one another.”
Officers say 2-year-old Malique Drumond was last seen around 6 PM on Sunday and was wearing brown pants and a blue shirt. They searched for the boy Sunday night along with White County Sheriff’s deputies, volunteers and police dogs.
Volunteers tell say they’ve been searching playhouses, sheds, abandoned vehicles and other areas where a small child could hide.
(Ava) – A Norwood resident suffered moderate injuries Sunday evening after a one-vehicle accident near Ava.
A report from Troop G of the Highway Patrol states the accident happened at 6:30 PM on Highway 14, about six miles east of Ava, when the eastbound vehicle driven by 82-year-old Alvin Schroeder ran off-road and overturned.
Schroeder was taken from the scene of the accident to Cox South Hospital in Springfield.