News from around Illinois, as reported by GateHouse newspapers.
Man arrested for Molotov cocktail attack
SPRINGFIELD -- A Springfield man was arrested Tuesday morning after he allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail onto the back porch of a woman's apartment building.
Tecumseh Ware, 49, was taken to Sangamon County Jail after the incident, which happened between 5:30 and 6 a.m. today. Police arrested him for aggravated arson.
The steel exterior storm door was damaged during the small fire. The 50-year-old woman who lives in the apartment was not injured.
School board votes to alters grade
PEORIA -- A Richwoods High School teacher watched Monday night as the school board voted to change a grade she handed one of her students last semester despite the recommendations of school administrators to keep it as is.
The third-year English teacher, JoAnna Moe, told District 150 School Board members she gave the junior ample opportunity to better the grade but issued a "C" for the lack of effort the student put into an enriched English project. By changing the grade to a "B," it "rewards students who choose not to put forth an effort," she said.
About a dozen Richwoods teachers joined her at the meeting and spoke before the decision, saying a grade change is nonsensical, sets a bad precedent and takes the evaluating process out of teachers' hands. "I wonder what lessons are going to be learned," said Shad Hickman, a math teacher and track coach at the high school.
A petition signed by 70 teachers and staff members at Richwoods also was presented on Monday "addressing the impression that could be sent concerning the integrity and professionalism of teaching if the school board were to make it a policy to change grades."
District officials said a parent appealed the grade on behalf of the student.
The name of the student and other details were publicly withheld because of confidentiality rules and laws, officials said.
Ultimately the board voted 5-2 in favor of making the change.
Journal Star, Peoria
Man sentenced to 71 years in killing
PEORIA -- Yolanda Wallace clutched her son's military ID card as a judge sentenced his killer to 71 years in prison Monday afternoon.
"It doesn't give me much comfort," she said later. "I thought that it would, but it didn't."
More than 20 relatives and friends of her son, Jon Buckley, filled one side of the courtroom. On the other side were a handful of people there for Cameron Puryear, who has maintained he was not the person who shot Buckley on Sept. 20, 2006, outside Buckley's home.
Puryear was convicted in late November of shooting Buckley, 20, a man who by all accounts wasn't a troublemaker. The apparent motive was that Puryear believed Buckley had "snitched" about a series of earlier shootings.
Puryear turned down his opportunity to make a statement during the hearing. Wallace made one, urging Peoria County Circuit Judge Michael Brandt to send a "message to all the thugs and gangbangers."
"There's a consequence that has to be paid," she said before asking for the maximum sentence, which would have been life in prison. During the trial, prosecutors Larry Evans and Deborah Shelby relied on statements from Puryear's friends and a former girlfriend that put a handgun in his hands the day of and the day after the shooting. Also, a friend of Puryear's who lived a block away from Buckley said after she heard gunshots, she ran home, followed closely by Puryear, who pushed his way into her house, told her he shot someone and then asked for bleach to wash off his hands.
Defense attorney Colette Bailey argued for the minimum sentence of 45 years. Such a sentence, she contended, would keep Puryear, 20, in prison until he is in his mid-60s. She urged Brandt not to "throw Cameron away."
Evans, however, assailed Puryear, calling him by a nickname that came out at trial: "Killer Cam."
"In the defendant's world, talking to the police is reason to kill," he said.
Journal Star, Peoria
Ex-teacher may get fitness hearing before trial
PEORIA -- The attorney of a former substitute teacher in Bloomington accused of producing child pornography has asked a federal judge to have his client's mental health checked.
Karl Bryning of the federal public defender's office asked U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm last month to order the psychiatric exam, which if granted, would likely delay James C. Love's scheduled Feb. 25 trial on two counts of production of child porn.
Mihm could rule on the motion at a pretrial hearing set for Friday. In his Jan. 22 motion, Bryning stated that based upon his impressions, Love "may suffer from a mental disease or defect that renders him unable to assist in his own defense and to comprehend the serious nature of the charges against him."
Furthermore, the attorney argued Love might have been "legally insane" when he allegedly sedated and molested several boys.
Such a request isn't unusual given the nature of the charges, and it appears from court records the federal prosecutors have no objections to the exam.
If granted, Love, who is in custody, will be sent to undergo the exam, which will determine whether he is competent to stand trial. After about two or three months, the results should be back and a fitness hearing will be scheduled.
Love, 37, was arrested in May after allegations he molested the boys at his home in April. Charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated battery are pending against him in McLean County court.
He was a substitute teacher for District 87 schools in Bloomington and for Unit 5 schools in neighboring Normal since 2003, officials said.
Also, Love ministered at the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington.
If convicted, Love faces 15 to 30 years on the federal charges. That sentence could be added onto whatever sentence he receives in state court if he's convicted of charges there.
Journal Star, Peoria
State awards $300,000 grant for race riot sculpture
SPRINGFIELD -- A $300,000 state grant will pay for a sculpture commemorating the 1908 Springfield race riot.
The sculpture, to be made by Peoria artist and Art Institute of Chicago professor Preston Jackson, will be unveiled in October in downtown Springfield's Union Square Park.
The grant was awarded Tuesday by the Capital Development Board's Art in Architecture program.
The 1908 race riots began after a white mob turned on black residents and business owners after its attempt to lynch two black inmates in the Sangamon County jail was thwarted. Rioting began on Friday, Aug. 14 and lasted through Saturday, leaving seven dead, dozens of homes and businesses destroyed and hundreds injured.
A group of civil rights activists, appalled that such an event could take place in Abraham Lincoln's hometown, began meetings that led to the formation of the NAACP. Preston's sculpture will be unveiled during the NAACP's state convention in Springfield this fall.
School bus crashes; no one hurt
ROCKFORD -- A school bus carrying six children slid on black ice this morning and careened into a tree near Irving and Ashland avenues.
No one was hurt, police officials said.
The school bus was heading north on Irving when it lost control on the long stretches of black ice that covered the road, officials said.
It slammed into a tree in the front yard of a home on Irving.
The students were taken to school on another bus.
Rockford Register Star
Southern Illinois needs blood
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS — The Missouri-Illinois Blood Service Region is launching an emergency appeal for all types of blood. Last week's snow depleted the American Red Cross' blood supply. The Red Cross needs to make up more than 800 units of blood in the next four days just to maintain its normal supply for patients in area hospitals.
"Providing blood for area hospitals is a 24/7/365 activity," said David Chumley, CEO for the American Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Region.
On Friday morning, the Red Cross had just over a half-day supply of O-negative blood and B-negative on its regional shelves. By Friday 30 units of O negative blood were already on backorder. Looking at shipments over the next few days the forecast for blood looks even worse.
When bad weather occurs or a cold or the flu keeps an individual from donating, the Red Cross encourages those with scheduled blood donation appointments to reschedule. Those who were planning on walking in to donate to help a school or an organization may also find a day, time and even a different blood drive to donate, which might even be more convenient for their schedule.
Marion Daily Republican