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Woman accused of killing ex-husband in Minnesota, boyfriend in Wisconsin; He's through with politics, says Thompson; more briefs

A trial is underway in Minnesota for a woman accused of killing her ex-husband in the Minnesota and her boyfriend in Wisconsin.

Angelina O'Mara, 39, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of James O'Mara of Sauk Rapids, Minn. He was found dead last November in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head.

The next day, police in Ashland found the body of the woman's boyfriend, Michael Pies, 36, in a motel room. Angelina O'Mara was charged with first-degree intentional homicide for that slaying.

Authorities say her Wisconsin case won't begin until her current Minnesota case is wrapped up.


He's through with politics, says Thompson

Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson says his defeat in the U.S. Senate race ends his political career, but he plans to keep working for the people of the state.

Thompson was emotional and reflective in his concession speech after he was defeated by Democrat Tammy Baldwin. He said he ran for the Senate because he loves Wisconsin, and he wanted to spend his last years serving the people of the state again.

Thompson has had a long political career, starting in the Legislature in the 1960s, through his time as Wisconsin governor from 1987 to 2001.

He said he felt he let down his supporters by not winning Tuesday's vote, but those in the audience shouted "no" in response.


Liberal Baldwin, conservative Johnson hope to work together in Senate

One of the state's most liberal politicians will join one of the state's biggest conservatives in the U.S. Senate.

But Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ron Johnson are hopeful they can work together to serve Wisconsin's best interests.

Baldwin said everyone who seeks public service cares deeply about their state, and she's confident she can find "common ground" with Johnson on both local and national issues. And that includes the federal deficit and the looming crisis over the national debt.

Baldwin said the voters sent a message on Tuesday that they're sick of gridlock even though the partisan makeup of Congress and the White House did not change.

Baldwin, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives, defeated former Republican governor Tommy Thompson Tuesday to win the Senate seat vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl.

Johnson, who unseated Democrat Russ Feingold two years ago, said he looks forward to meeting with Baldwin in person to discuss issues. He said he hoped Baldwin would agree with the facts surrounding the federal budget and work toward what he called "common sense solutions."

Johnson agreed that the two are political opposites, and the first thing he wants to do is find out what they agree on.


Ryan didn't give up his 'day job,' will return to Congress

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says he will return to Congress, but he plans to spend some time with his family first.

Ryan was reelected to his Congressional seat in Tuesday's vote.

His advisers had been discussing whether the Republican would be best served by returning for an 8th term in Congress if he is planning to run for President in 2016. Even before he was chosen to run with Mitt Romney, the 42-year-old from Janesville was seen as a rising star in the GOP.

Ryan, his wife and three children returned to their Janesville home yesterday.


Step-brother accused of killing autistic man; two others also charged

Three people have been charged in the death of a Dane County man who had autism.

Matthew Graville, 27, of Mazomanie was missing since June. Tuesday Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Graville was abused and tortured by his step-brother, who then killed him, placed his body in a freezer and buried him near Mazomanie last July. The body was found in a five-foot deep grave in a wooded area near Lone Rock.

The step-brother, Jeffrey Vogelsberg, 28, is charged with first-degree intentional Vogelsberg was arrested in Washington State this week and now faces extradition to Wisconsin.

Their landlord has been arrested for helping hide the victim's remains. Prosecutors said Robert McCumber, 28, of Mazomanie owned the land where Graville's body was hidden and buried.

The victim's stepmother, Laura Robar, 49, of Fort Atkinson, allegedly conspired to hide the body, and stole money and food stamps from Graville after he died. She is charged with two counts of identity theft.

Both McCumber and Robar are being held under $100,000 bonds, and both are due back in court next Tuesday for preliminary hearings.

Vogelsberg was arrested at a military base where his wife works. Prosecutors said she knew about the crime. She has not been charged, but officials say more charges in the case are possible.

WISC TV in Madison said Robar was fired yesterday from a job at the Dane County Human Services Department.


Two children die in Racine house fire

Two children were killed and four other people went to a hospital after an overnight house fire in Racine.

Authorities were told that four kids were trapped in a burning building around 12:45 a.m. this morning.

Fire Chief Steve Hansen it took about 15 minutes to remove the youngsters because security bars blocked windows in the children's room, and home furnishings and heavy smoke blocked interior doorways.

After the final child was removed, Hansen said at least four firefighters succumbed to heat exhaustion.

The four kids and a man were taken by ambulance to a Racine hospital where two of the youngsters died. A sixth victim showed up a short time later. Two of the youngsters were transferred to Milwaukee Children's Hospital.

Units from the neighboring South Shore Fire Department treated the firefighters. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.


Sexual orientation not issue in elections, but it is now, say opponents

Opponents did not make sexual orientation much of an issue in the Wisconsin congressional elections. But now that Capitol Hill has two openly gay Democrats from the state, the Wisconsin Family Action group warns that both congressman-elect Mark Pocan and senator-elect Tammy Baldwin will advance a "narrow, liberal agenda."

Juliane Appling of Family Action says her group will work to defeat both Baldwin and Pocan in their next elections and stop them from "destroying" the country.

Katie Belanger of Fair Wisconsin says her group is pleased with the elections of both Baldwin and Pocan and with voters in Maine and Maryland who voted to approve gay marriage, a first for the nation.

In 2006 almost six of every 10 Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

But gay unions have since been getting more support. The latest Marquette Law School poll said 44% of likely voters approve of gay marriage, 29% favor civil unions, and only 22% believe gay partners should not get legal recognition.

Democrats created the state's domestic partner registry a few years ago. It gives same-sex couples about one-fifth the legal benefits of married couples.

The Family Action group continues to challenge it in a state appeals court. And state Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc said that as long as GOP remains in charge at the State Capitol, the state's ban on gay marriage will not go away any time soon.


Some recounts possible in state legislative races

Recounts are possible in three Wisconsin Assembly elections along with one Senate race.

One of the possible challenges in in the 93rd Assembly District, which includes most of Pierce County. In that district incumbent Warren Petryk, a Republican, defeated Democrat Jeff Smith, who held the seat two terms back.

But no matter what happens, Republicans will still have control of both houses.

In most cases, the losing candidates say they'll review their options after the ballots are officially canvassed in the next few days.

But there's only one contest in which the margin of defeat is less than .5%, and thus, it's the only case in which taxpayers would cover the cost of a recount. That's in the 72nd Assembly District, where first-term Republican Scott Krug of Wisconsin Rapids holds a 114-vote lead over firefighter Justin Pleuss.

In the 70th Assembly District, Democratic incumbent Amy Sue Vruwink of Milladore has a 168-vote lead over car dealer Nancy VanderMeer of Tomah.

In the 93rd District, Petryk had a 500-vote lead over Smith. One state Democratic campaign official doubted there would be a recount, saying the result is not that close.

In the Senate, Oshkosh Democrat Jessica King - who won a recall election last summer - is waiting for the canvass to decide on a recount after losing by 590 votes to Fond du Lac Republican Rick Gudex.

That race is being closely watched because a Gudex victory would let Republicans pass what they want without having to deal with moderate Republican Dale Schultz - who killed the GOP's mining package last spring with the help of Democrats.


Democratic leader says he'll leave post before GOP takes control

State Senate Democratic leader Mark Miller said he will leave that post next month before his party becomes the minority again.

The Monona lawmaker gave no reason, but he said he was honored to serve "through this important time in history."

Miller led 13 other Senate Democrats as they fled to Illinois for three weeks last year in a failed effort to block the law which ended most public employee union bargaining in the state.

He later helped Democrats win the seat they needed to regain control of the Senate in June of this year. But it turned out to be a largely symbolic move since the Legislature was never called into session during that time.

On Tuesday, Republicans won back control of the Senate by gaining two seats.

Miller will remain in the Senate. He was unopposed on Tuesday for another four-year term. No one announced plans to replace Miller as the new minority leader, but a strong competition was expected.

Some Democrats privately told reporters that Miller most likely would have faced a challenge had he decided to seek the leadership post again.