State Briefs 4/23/08
Peterson attorney files appeal of Savio’s estate reopening
JOLIET – Drew Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, filed an appeal Tuesday against a Will County judge's decision to reopen the estate of Peterson's third wife.
The appeal, filed on behalf of James Carroll, Peterson's uncle and the current executor of Kathleen Savio's estate, asks the appellate court to reverse an April 17 decision that reopened the estate and removed Carroll as executor.
Earlier this year, five of Savio's family members petitioned the court to reopen the estate in preparation for a possible wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson.
Brodsky had asked the judge to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the two-year statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death lawsuit had passed.
Lawyers for the Savio family argued the family had no way to file a lawsuit because Peterson's uncle was in control of the estate. The judge agreed and reopened the estate. The judge also appointed an attorney for Savio and Peterson's two teenage sons, the beneficiaries of Savio's estate, to ensure any legal action would not harm them.
Savio was found drowned in a dry bathtub in March 2004. At the time, her death was ruled an accident. But investigators re-examined the death shortly after Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy, disappeared Oct. 28, 2007.
Savio's body was exhumed in November 2007 and two pathologists, one at the request of her family and one on behalf of Will County, performed separate autopsies. Each recently ruled the death a homicide.
Suburban Life Publications
School boards vote to put consolidation on ballot
ALEDO – Aledo and Westmer voters will cast ballots on consolidation in November.
Both boards of education unanimously approved resolutions Monday night supporting the recommendations of a committee that had been formed to study consolidation. Those recommendations include electing the new school board members through an at-large method and a proposed tax rate. The new school board would be responsible for ensuring the rest of the recommendations are met.
Eliminating teaching positions should not be an issue because of pending retirements in both districts.
The new school board will be elected Nov. 4, the same day as the consolidation question is on the ballot. Candidates can begin circulating petitions May 27.
The committee has recommended housing the high school at the current Aledo High School, fifth- and sixth-graders at Aledo Jr. High, seventh- and eighth-graders at Westmer Secondary School in Joy, and kindergarten through fourth grade at Apollo and New Boston elementary schools. Some concern was expressed Monday night about excess capacity in each of the five buildings, but the committee recommended the unit office be housed in one of the five buildings. Currently, Aledo leases space for its unit office.
One recommendation that was not made was a name and mascot for the consolidated district. The committee felt that should be determined following a successful vote.
Lawsuit claims excessive force in police shooting
PEORIA – Two police officers used excessive force in the fatal shooting of a South Peoria man last year, a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Peoria County Circuit Court alleges.
The wrongful death suit filed by Chicago-based attorney Berve Power Jr. stems from the April 26 shooting of James E. Lee, 26, and his girlfriend Jessica Flowers by officers John Peterson and Robert McMillen.
Powers maintained during a news conference announcing the suit that Lee was unarmed and the use of deadly force by officers was excessive and unwarranted.
“From accounts that we know from Jessica Flowers, police officers shot through the door of the residence and we maintain that shooting through a closed door is not only reckless, but leads to situations like occurred here,” Power said. “If the police officers felt that their lives were in such danger shooting through a closed door or being on the other side of a closed door does not quite warrant deadly force taking place.”
Flowers, who Power called an “innocent bystander” was shot in the right hand, an injury that has permanently disabled her. Both Lee and Flowers are plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit, which is seeking in excess of $100,000 per person.
Peoria Journal Star
Agreement reached on gas pipeline
SPRINGFIELD – A company planning to build a natural gas pipeline across much of the United States has reached agreement with most of the affected property owners in central Illinois, it was announced in federal court Tuesday afternoon.
“We have come to an agreement with all but two of the property owners,” said Allen Fore, the St. Louis-based spokesman for Rockies Express. “It started out as 25, and that number has continuously been reduced.”
Of the remaining two, Fore said, one was served with court documents Saturday, and company representatives haven’t had a chance to speak with that person. The other has had just an initial contact.
Rockies Express Pipeline LLC is building a natural gas pipeline from Colorado to Ohio to deliver more natural gas to the eastern United States. Part of that 1,679-mile pipeline already has been constructed, with the $4.4 billion project being built in four phases.
Last month, Rockies Express sought an injunction in federal court against the trustee of property in Morgan County. That complaint was later modified to include a number of people who weren’t allowing the company to come on their properties to conduct archaeological and environmental testing.