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Mahomet-Seymour student dies of apparent natural causes

A multi-sport athlete at Mahomet-Seymour high school has died of apparent natural causes. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday to look into the death of 18-year-old Matthew Prather.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said the young man was found dead in bed by his father at around 7 pm Thursday. Northrup said Prather has had at least one medical issue in the past, but he said he is not sure if that is related in any way to the teen's death. Northrup said there is nothing suspicious about Prather's death at this time.

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  • Parent Category: News

Murder conviction overturned in Ford County case

A Gibson City man who had his second degree murder conviction overturned now has a re-sentencing date of April 21.

36-year-old old Ryan Nibbe was sentenced in 2014 to 17 years in prison in the death of Timothy Robertson. An appeal found the appellate court agreeing that the evidence shows that Nibbe acted in self-defense.

Nibbe will be resentenced on an aggravated battery charge, with a sentence ranging from probation to 10 years in prison.

The case involved a 2013 fight in Gibson City. Prosecutors said Nibbe punched Robertson. Robertson fell and hit his head on the pavement and died from his injuries eight days later.

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  • Parent Category: News

Facebook comment stirs lawsuit in Livingston County

Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress has filed a lawsuit over Facebook comments related to a pending heroin case.

The lawsuit accuses Philip Uphoff, the brother of Livingston County State's Attorney Seth Uphoff, of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The social media posting criticized comments made by Childress following the arrest of a Flanagan couple on drug charges. The sheriff said more than 50 baggies containing an undetermined amount of heroin were found by police at the home of James and Beth Blankenbeckler.

The Bloomington Pantagraph reports drug possession charges filed by Seth Uphoff raised questions from residents about the seriousness of the drug raid. The sheriff responded that he believed evidence collected at the scene pointed to intent to sell illegal drugs, warranting more serious charges.

In public remarks after the arrests, the sheriff and prosecutor have stood by their characterizations of the charges.

In his lawsuit filed earlier this month, the sheriff takes exception to Philip Uphoff's Facebook posting that the sheriff "purposely misled all of the citizens in order to smear the name of our State's Attorney Seth Uphoff."

The comment continued with an accusation by Philip Uphofff that the sheriff required deputies to actively campaign for Randy Yedinak, Seth Uphoff's opponent in the March 15 Republican primary election. Yedinak defeated Uphoff in his bid for a second term.

Childress denies the allegations, calling the remarks "libelous, slanderous and false statements."

Philip Uphoff has not filed a response to the lawsuit.

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  • Parent Category: News

Rep. Cloonen legislation protects victims of sexual violence

State Rep. Kate Cloonen is proposing new legislation that would protect victims of sexual violence during criminal proceedings against their alleged attackers.

The Bradley Democrat said, "Survivors of these appalling crimes should not be subjected to a face-to-face line of questioning by their abuser, which what happens when the alleged abusers choose to represent themselves in court and are free to cross-examine their victims."

Cloonen adds, "Sexual abuse crimes are grossly underreported, in large part because of victims' fear of their attackers. I believe that this legislation will make it easier for victims to come forward without fear of becoming victimized again in the criminal justice system."

House Bill 5587, which was filed by Cloonen, stipulates that in cases of sexual violence a defendant representing themselves in court shall use a court appointed attorney for the cross-examination of the alleged victim. HB 5587 is currently pending before the Rules Committee.

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  • Parent Category: News

Rail spur near Manteno under study

The Daily-Journal is reporting a proposed $8 billion railroad study is being looked at to help with congested rail lines in Cook County. Under consideration is a privately-funded railroad that would wind around and bypass the busy lines within Cook County and the surrounding area.

The Great Lakes Basin Railroad would be a 278-mile rail spur. It would be a freight line, running just north of Manteno.

The D-J article questions whether the proposal is another proposed development similar to the Illiana Expressway or the South Suburban Airport ?

A schedule of public hearings are planned by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The goal of these hearings is to prepare an environmental impact statement. A hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. April 11 at the Manteno Sportsmen's Club.

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