Temperatures expected to plunge tonight; AG wants budget to combat sex trafficking of kids; Farm Bill extension vote up today; more briefsWisconsin News
Temperatures are expected to plunge below zero in almost all of Wisconsin after it got slightly warmer in places during the night. Wisconsin’s attorney general says one of his top priorities over the next two years is to fight the sex trafficking of children.
New Year’s Eve revelers will freeze tonight if they’re not careful
Temperatures are expected to plunge below zero in almost all of Wisconsin after it got slightly warmer in places during the night.
It was 31 degrees in Milwaukee at 7 a.m. today, and the rest of the state was in the teens and 20’s with light snow in the north.
Highs were expected to be in the teens around the state both today and tomorrow. Spots along Lake Superior might be the only ones tonight not to fall below zero. A slight warming trend is expected for the rest of the week, starting Wednesday.
AG asks Walker to budget $900,000 to combat sex trafficking of kids
Wisconsin’s attorney general says one of his top priorities over the next two years is to fight the sex trafficking of children.
The state Department of Justice says some kids are babies when they’re forced into the sex slave trading business. Nationally, the average age of a child who’s first exploited this way is 13.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen called it the “worst form of torture” he can imagine. His agency has asked Gov. Scott Walker to budget $900,000 over the next two years to fight sex trafficking of kids. The funding would hire five new agents and two criminal analysts to work specifically on trafficking.
The governor’s office said the proposal is under advisement. Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck said the agency does not count the numbers of sex trafficking cases in Wisconsin, but she said it would be naïve to conclude that it’s not happening. She said it happens all over the state.
Van Hollen said he has people working on the problem, but they’re being taken away from child pornography cases. The attorney general said he also hopes to raise public awareness about child trafficking.
Van Hollen plans to host a summit on the topic this fall in his role as the incoming president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Farm bill extension up for vote today
A proposed extension of federal farm programs could come up for a vote today in Congress.
House and Senate agriculture committee leaders from both parties have announced a one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill that expired three months ago.
House Republicans are also looking at two other options -- a one-month extension and a measure that would only extend policies for the dairy industry.
Some lawmakers have been driven toward a compromise by a possible jump in consumer milk prices. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said that Americans could pay $7 a gallon for milk if dairy program ends and the government returns to a 1949 program to determine producer milk supports.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said GOP leaders had not decided how to proceed on a farm bill extension. The Senate passed its version of a farm bill last summer, but Boehner has delayed a vote in the House amid concern over the food stamp spending in the bill.
The proposed committee extension also includes disaster aid to farmers affected by this year’s drought, plus a voluntary insurance program for dairy producers that was included in both the Senate and House committee versions of the new Farm Bill.
Serial killer asks court to throw out convictions
His attorney calls it a “long shot,” but Milwaukee serial killer Walter Ellis has asked the State Supreme Court to throw out his seven murder convictions.
Ellis pleaded no contest last year to killing seven women over 21 years in the same Milwaukee neighborhood. His lawyer, Richard Hart, said Ellis agreed to the pleas only because he did not think he could get a fair trial.
Ellis wanted all seven of his homicide and murder cases to be tried separately, saying jurors might use evidence in one case to prejudge him in the others. And he wanted a jury from outside Milwaukee County to hear his trials, saying his home county had been “hostile to him.”
A circuit judge rejected both requests, and so did a state appeals court. Hart said there’s only a slim chance that the Supreme Court would review the case. He said he wants to protect all of Ellis’s rights and assure that his case is fully litigated.
Ellis was accused of strangling all seven of his victims between 1986 and 2007. He was arrested in 2009 after his DNA was found on six women and his blood was discovered on another woman’s pepper spray.
His arrest exposed flaws in the state’s process for collecting DNA from convicted felons for a database that helps police solve past and future crimes. Ellis had skipped out on his requirement to submit DNA while in prison for a previous conviction several years before his latest arrest.
Fourth person arrested in Mexico over gang death in Madison
A fourth person has been arrested in Mexico for the gang-related murder of a 19-year-old man in Madison over 2 1/2 years ago.
Arain Gutierrez, 23, was arrested in Cancun after an international arrest warrant was issued for him.
Gutierrez, also known as Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the April 2010 shooting death of Antonio Perez. He was arrested in Cancun and was expected to be taken to Mexico City to await extradition to Madison to face his Wisconsin charge.
Perez, 19, was gunned down in the parking lot of a Madison business. Three others have been sentenced and another suspect reportedly fled to his home country of Guatemala.
Trial set to begin for children’s arson deaths
A two-week trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 22 for Armin Wand III, the Argyle man who’s accused of setting fire to his house in September and killing four children.
The trial is still scheduled to take place in Lafayette County, but lawyers for Armin Wand and his brother Jeremy want their trials to take place outside the Madison TV market due to the heavy publicity the case has received.
Pretrial hearings are scheduled for Jan. 3 and 17.
Armin Wand, who’s 33, reportedly told authorities he wanted to wipe out his family and collect the insurance money from the fire to get a fresh start in life.
Wand’s brother Jeremy, 18, was reportedly offered $300 of the insurance money to help burn down the home.
Three kids died in the house. Armin’s wife barely survived the fire, but she lost her unborn child. The couple’s two-year-old daughter escaped.
Armin Wand faces eight felony charges, and his brother seven. Both men face four counts each of first-degree intentional homicide.
The judge and lawyers in Jeremy’s case will get together Feb. 20 to review the status of that case. A trial date could be set at that time.
National Guard agri-business team headed for Afghanistan
A dozen members from the National Guard’s 97th Agribusiness Development Team will teach Afghan farmers how to be more productive in their farming.
They’ll also show how to maintain herds more effectively with the goals of increasing production, creating jobs and reducing poverty in Afghan agriculture.
The Guard’s agri-business team will get a sendoff in Madison from Gov. Scott Walker and National Guard officials.
The troops will spend a few weeks training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., before heading off to Afghanistan. They’ll relieve another agribusiness team that’s been in Kunar Province.
Rally held for Rose Bowl Badgers
An estimated 3,000 Wisconsin football fans held a rally in downtown Los Angeles Sunday to cheer on the Badgers as they get ready to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
But after losing the last two Rose Bowls, the crowd for this rally was much smaller – not even a third of the over 10,000 fans which jammed similar rallies the past two years.
Former coach Barry Alvarez, who decided to coach the Badgers after Bret Bielema suddenly left, was greeted with the chant of “Barry, Barry.” He said nobody should apologize for Wisconsin being at Pasadena, despite a five-loss season and an elevation to the Big Ten title game as the result of penalties to Penn State and Ohio State.
1999 Heisman winner Ron Dayne, who played for Alvarez, said he wished he could come out of retirement and play again tomorrow.
The Badgers will play eighth-ranked Stanford, and Alvarez says his team does not have to be the best in the nation -- only good enough to beat the Cardinals tomorrow.
The rally also featured Badger players and a video of the team’s 2012 season.