State Briefs 8/25/09

Federal judge Mihm to take on lighter case load

PEORIA – A fixture in Peoria’s legal community is stepping down – sort of.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm announced Tuesday he would be taking “senior” status as of Oct. 1.

Taking senior status means Mihm likely will handle a smaller case load than he does currently. A judge must maintain a minimum case load in order to maintain senior status. Mihm has indicated that after October he will maintain a 50 percent case load from what he is managing now.

A federal judge for 27 years, Mihm has spent nearly all of his professional life in public service. He was Peoria County state’s attorney for eight years before leaving the office in 1980. He took the federal bench in 1982.

Since then he’s been involved in many substantial cases, including one dealing with ADM’s price-fixing on high fructose corn syrup as well as dozens of Operation Crackshot cases. Crackshot was a federal anti-gang effort in the mid-1990s that smashed Peoria’s gang leadership and busted up the drug trade for a few years before it revived again.

Mihm also led the U.S.’s effort to help the fledgling Russian republics develop their judicial system after the Soviet Union collapsed. He’s been to Russia many times and established “sister” courts in that country. Russian judges have come here to observe and learn from Mihm, who has begun a similar process for Chinese courts as well.

Peoria Journal Star

Child dies from ‘non-accidental’ injuries

PEORIA – A 2-year-old child from Lincoln died Monday at the Children's Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

Lucas T. Alberts died at 2:30 p.m. after sustaining multiple injuries "consistent with non-accidental trauma," said Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll.

His mother, Jody Alberts, said she found Lucas lethargic and lying in his bed at 5:40 a.m. Sunday, Ingersoll said. At 6 a.m., she took Lucas in a private vehicle to Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

Lucas was then flown by helicopter to St. Francis and was admitted about 8:15 a.m.

Lincoln police did not release any information on the case, but no arrests have been made. Lincoln police and the Peoria County Coroner's Office are investigating. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

Peoria Journal Star

Man charged with involuntary manslaughter in fatal crash

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct in connection with a May 2008 wreck that killed his girlfriend.

Adam Q. Reed, 33, was arrested Thursday. Reed is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of reckless conduct, all of which are felonies.

Nicole L. “Nicky” Zike, 29, of Springfield was killed in the wreck, which happened about 9:15 p.m. May 22, 2008. She was driving, and Reed, Zike’s boyfriend, was in the front passenger seat. Another passenger was in the back of the car.

According to prosecutors, Reed and Zike began arguing as the car was southbound on Martin Luther King Drive, and he struck her with a beer bottle while the car was still moving. Reed then allegedly tried to climb into the driver’s seat on top of Zike, at which point she lost control of the car. The vehicle hit a parked trailer and then crashed into a tree in a yard.

Zike, who died of injuries to the body, had a blood-alcohol concentration of .204 percent, well over the .08 percent legal limit in Illinois, and cocaine also was in her system, authorities said at the coroner’s inquest in June 2008. Authorities said Reed also appeared to be highly intoxicated.

In March of this year, Reed pleaded guilty to domestic battery for allegedly punching an ex-girlfriend repeatedly in the face, then trying to strangle her. He already was on probation for a felony criminal damage case from 2007. In 2008, he was charged with resisting arrest after he allegedly pulled a Springfield police officer’s shoulder out of the socket while the officer was trying to handcuff Reed.

Another former girlfriend sought an order of protection in 2003, accusing Reed of punching her repeatedly in the face. Other charges against Reed through the years include leaving the scene of an accident, disorderly conduct and trespassing, according to court records.

State Journal-Register

Attendance down, but higher ticket prices boost state fair revenue

SPRINGFIELD – The 2009 version of the Illinois State Fair may have been down in attendance from its 2008 counterpart, but a higher admission price boosted gate revenue by $1 million – one-third more than in 2008.

An estimated 68,241 people attended the fair Sunday, compared to 73,399 who entered the gates on reduced-admission Family Day last year. That brought the 2009 attendance total for the fair’s 10-day run to 654,794, an 11.1 percent drop from 2008.

Revenue from 2009 admissions totaled $1,058,049, a 34 percent increase over the $792,287 in collected at the gate in 2008.

Adult admission increased this year for the first time since 1990 — from $3 to $5. Family Day admission remained $2, and veterans and senior citizens continued to get in free on their designated days.

State Journal-Register