Operator of suburban kennel charged in fire fatal to 29 dogs

WHEATON, Ill. — Animal cruelty charges have been filed against the operator of a suburban Chicago kennel where 29 dogs were killed earlier this year in a fire.

Garrett Mercado, of Woodridge, also was charged with violation of owner’s duties charges on Wednesday. The charges are misdemeanors.

The Jan. 14 fire at D&D Kennels located near West Chicago was discovered by a DuPage County sheriff’s deputy on routine patrol. Authorities said the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

Milwaukee to pay $7.5 million settlement in bite-mark case

MILWAUKEE — A man would receive $7.5 million from the City of Milwaukee after he was wrongly imprisoned for 24 years based on what he says was bogus bite-mark evidence.

Robert Lee Stinson agreed to settle his claims against the city and one of its former police detectives for an initial payment of $3.5 million in August and $4 million in January.

The Journal Sentinel reported the settlement was reached during a jury trial over Stinson’s claims that detectives and dentists conspired to frame him in his neighbor’s homicide using the bite-mark evidence.

Stinson was convicted in 1985 of killing Ione Cychosz, of Milwaukee. He was freed in 2009 after the Wisconsin Innocence Project found experts who rejected the dentists’ conclusions that a bite mark on the victim was left by Stinson.

Database error delays Illinois unemployment checks

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State officials say thousands of Illinoisans will have delayed unemployment checks this week due to a database error.

Illinois Department of Employment Security spokesman Sam Salustro said about 29,000 people were supposed to be paid Wednesday. He said the agency anticipates the system being operational today and those affected being paid by today. The department said its employees will “continue to work all hours until the issue is fully fixed.”

21-year sentence handed to man who killed child welfare worker

MOUNT CARROLL, Ill. — A man charged with murder in the death of an Illinois child welfare worker entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors and was sentenced Wednesday to 21 years in prison.

Andrew Sucher, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound weightlifter, was accused of attacking Department of Children and Family Services worker Pamala Knight, 59, when she tried to take a child into protective custody in September 2017.

Knight learned the child was with Sucher, who was accused of abusing a six-year-old and was under court orders to stay away from the 2-year-old.

Knight went to the toddler’s paternal grandparent’s home in Milledgeville without police protection because no officer was available. Sucher pushed the woman to the ground and allegedly kicked her in the head, fracturing her skull and causing brain damage. Knight died about 5 months later.

UW workgroups to improve student mental health services

MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin System officials plan to create workgroups to develop recommendations on how to better serve students with mental health needs.

The system says student visits to campus counseling centers have increased 55% since 2010.

UW regents approve fee hike

MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin System regents have voted to increase student fees and room-and-board costs for the upcoming school year.

The regents approved the increases unanimously on Thursday as part of the system’s 2019-20 operational budget. Under the plan, student fees will increase an average of $36 across the system.

UW-Madison students will face a $170 increase, the largest of any four-year school, bringing their annual fees to $1,452. Debt service on a new recreational center and natatorium is driving the increase.

The Associated Press

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