- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Milwaukee to pay $6.5M to man wrongly convicted of murder

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The City of Milwaukee would pay $6.5 million to a man wrongly convicted of a 1995 murder, under a proposed settlement filed Tuesday.

The Milwaukee city attorney filed a proposed resolution asking the Common Council to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Chaunte Ott. Ott spent 13 years in prison before DNA linked the case to a convicted serial killer.

“Lawsuits based on events occurring nearly two decades ago present hurdles that make defending such cases exceptionally difficult,” according to a statement released by the city late Tuesday afternoon.

Ott filed his lawsuit after his release in 2009. He claimed that Milwaukee police detectives pressured witnesses into testifying falsely that they had been with Ott during the murder of 16-year-old runaway Jessica Payne. DNA eventually linked the case to convicted Wisconsin serial killer Walter Ellis.

Ellis never was charged with Payne’s death, although he ultimately pleaded no contest to killing seven other women around Milwaukee over 21 years and was sentenced to life in prison.

Ott, now 40, won his freedom with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project. In 2007, it was learned that DNA taken from the Payne crime scene did not match Ott or the two men who had testified against him, both of whom later recanted. It did match DNA taken from two other murdered women, one of whom Ellis was later convicted of killing.

Ott’s lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1Ik84jmhttps://bit.ly/1Ik84jm ) reported.


4 UW schools offer buyouts to head off budget cuts

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Four University of Wisconsin System schools are offering employees buyouts to help absorb their shares of a $300 million system-wide cut in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget.

UW-Oshkosh officials announced Tuesday they would offer voluntary buyouts that would give employees who are at least 60 years old with 25 years of service 50 percent of their annual salary.

UW-Green Bay announced a buyout program Monday for workers who are at least 55 years old with at least five years of service are eligible. UWGB officials declined to comment on the buyout amount. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday, however, that workers would get 50 percent of their salary.

UW-Eau Claire and UW-Superior announced buyout programs earlier this month. Both programs would offer 50 percent of salaries to workers 55 or older.


Milwaukee police identify suspect in fatal shooting at party

MILWAUKEE (AP) - An 18-year-old Milwaukee man has been identified as a suspect in a fatal shooting at a house party.

The man was arrested last week while driving a stolen car. He was charged in an unrelated shooting during an armed robbery in mid-March.

Police also have identified the man as a suspect in the killing of 19-year-old Ericka Walker. She was fatally shot March 7 during an argument at a house party on Milwaukee’s north side.

A search warrant affidavit filed Monday says witnesses of the shooting identified the man in a photo lineup as the person who fired the gun.

A police spokesman said Tuesday that the case has been referred to the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office.


Charge dropped for Wisconsin woman who left gun in bathroom

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) - A 67-year-old Oconomowoc woman has been cleared of criminal charges for the second time after leaving her loaded handgun in a Brookfield church last year.

Susan Hitchler forgot the weapon in a woman’s restroom while visiting Elmbrook Church last March. A janitor discovered the gun and turned it over to security at the church.

Hitchler was charged with negligently handling a weapon, but the charged was dismissed in June. Prosecutors re-filed a new complaint charging her with disorderly conduct in November.

A judge dismissed the most recent charge Tuesday. He noted that Hitchler had a license to carry a concealed weapon, and said her negligence wasn’t criminal.

Her husband, Gerald Hitchler, left his loaded handgun in a men’s restroom at Egg Harbor Fun Park in August. Prosecutors reviewed the incident but didn’t pursue charges.

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