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News from around Wisconsin at 5:28 a.m. CDT

Saturday, March 15, 2014

- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014
Wis. man sentenced for drugging, assaulting women

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Brian Stowe sat with his head down as, one by one, three women walked to the front of a Wisconsin courtroom and described their shock at finding out their close friend had drugged them to the point of unconsciousness, then sexually assaulted and photographed them.

The Madison resident assaulted a total eight women over a three-year period, one of whom was a 17-year-old girl. After pleading guilty to 27 felony counts in December, Stowe was sentenced Friday to the equivalent of a year per count in state prison.

Dane County Circuit Judge William Hanrahan said Stowe, 29, will first serve 15 years in federal prison on a federal conviction of sexual exploitation of a child. After that, Stowe will serve 27 years on the state felony counts - 16 counts of sexual assault and 11 counts of taking or possessing sexually explicit images of his victims.

Stowe shook his head each time his victims, the judge and prosecutor accused him of drugging the women, and defense attorney Dennis Coffey said there was no proof the women were drugged.

But the judge, whose voice wavered as he described a "cold and calculated" series of attacks, said he had no doubt that Stowe drugged the victims before the assaults.

"The devastation ... is spread far and wide in this community and it makes us all feel less safe," Hanrahan said.

Police arrested Stowe last year after the 17-year-old reported that he drugged and sexually assaulted her as she lay unconscious in bed in October 2012, and took photos and videos of it.

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Wisconsin website had wrong insurance deadline

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services says its website saying that BadgerCare recipients have to sign up for private health insurance by Saturday in order to have it in place next month is wrong.

Department spokeswoman Stephanie Smiley says BadgerCare recipients who are losing coverage at the end of the month have until March 31 to sign up through the private insurance marketplace and have that start in April.

The department's website as of Friday afternoon said they had to sign up by March 15 if they wanted coverage starting in April. The date was changed to March 31 minutes after The Associated Press inquired about it.

Those who have no insurance have to sign up by Saturday to get coverage effective April 1.

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Man who killed 2 teens during beating out of jail

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A maintenance worker who fatally shot two teens as police say he was being beaten with a baseball bat in Milwaukee was released from jail Friday while prosecutors continue their investigation.

The man was released after initially being arrested on possible homicide charges after Wednesday's shooting.

"All incidents like this require extensive work by law enforcement and prosecutors," Milwaukee County Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said in a statement announcing the man's release.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the 39-year-old Cudahy man says his client has a permit to carry a gun.

Attorney David Geraghty told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/OqBC8Qhttp://bit.ly/OqBC8Q ) the man "considers it an occupational necessity" to carry a gun because of the nature and location of his work, but he is not a gun rights activist or a hunter.

"We feel pretty confident it was self-defense," Geraghty said. The man who was beaten was treated for his injuries at a hospital before being arrested.

Police said 17-year-old Anmarie Miller and 19-year-old James Bell Jr., both of Milwaukee, were killed in the stairwell of an apartment building on the city's west side shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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Secret probe filings: Judge sees nothing improper

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The judge overseeing a secret investigation into possible illegal coordination between conservative groups and recent recall campaigns said in a ruling earlier this year he doesn't think anybody did anything wrong, according to court documents.

The documents, filed this week, offer some of the most definitive details yet on the probe. The investigation is being conducted as a so-called John Doe probe, a proceeding similar to a grand jury investigation where information is tightly controlled and witnesses can't speak publicly about their testimony.

The conservative group Club for Growth has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the investigation, arguing prosecutors are harassing conservatives. Attorneys for a state Government Accountability Board investigator working on the probe filed a heavily redacted brief Wednesday asking U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa to toss the lawsuit.

Wisconsin Reporter, a website funded by the conservative Franklin Center, was able to view the blacked-out portions by pasting them into a word processing program. The Associated Press replicated the process Friday.

The brief confirmed the five-county probe focuses on alleged illegal campaign coordination between conservative organizations and Republican candidates' campaigns during the 2011 and 2012 recalls. The elections were spurred by Democrats' outrage over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's law that stripped most public workers of nearly all their union rights. Democrats mounted a push to oust Walker himself, but the governor soundly defeated challenger Tom Barrett.

The investigation began in August 2012, the filing shows. The document notes that Judge Gregory Peterson, the state judge overseeing the probe, granted a request from Club for Growth members in January to quash five subpoenas and return materials obtained during the investigation.

It's still not known what was seized and it's unclear who received subpoenas beyond Club for Growth. The Wall Street Journal has reported the other targets were Walker's campaign, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the conservative group Citizens for a Strong America.

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