- Associated Press - Sunday, August 9, 2015
Milwaukee police investigate homicide, 3 other shootings

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee police are investigating four separate shootings, including a homicide.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (https://bit.ly/1J4DrUh) the four shootings include a 12-year-old boy wounded while inside a house by a bullet fired from outside. He is expected to survive.

In the homicide, a 24-year-old woman has been arrested in the death of a 24-year-old man in a vehicle.

One other shooting victim is expected to survive and a fourth victim was taken to a hospital for treatment. There’s no word on the person’s condition.

The shootings add to the city’s murder total, now at nearly 100 people killed for 2015.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.comhttps://www.jsonline.com


Juvenile court decision due in Slender Man stabbing case

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A pivotal decision is due this week in the case of two 13-year-old Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing a classmate to please online horror character Slender Man - keep them in adult court or move them into the juvenile system.

The stakes are enormous: Each girl faces a charge of attempted first-degree homicide in adult court and could spend up to 65 years in the state prison system if convicted. Should Waukesha County Circuit Judge Bohren move them into the juvenile system, they could be held for only five years and all records of the proceedings would be sealed, giving them a chance to restart their lives.

Bohren, due to rule Monday, faces thorny questions about how young is too young to face adult consequences for crimes. Defense attorneys for both girls argue their clients are mentally ill - one attorney says his client is a schizophrenic who still believes fictional characters such as Slender Man and Harry Potter truly exist - and will receive better treatment in the juvenile system. Prosecutors say transferring them out of adult court would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.

“It’s obviously a very tough decision for him,” said former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, who attended law school with Bohren. “They’re very young. They clearly have some serious mental health issues. That pushes you toward putting them in juvenile court.

“But the crime is so severe.”

Prosecutors allege the girls, who are both from Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb, had plotted for months to kill classmate Payton Leutner in hopes of pleasing Slender Man. They planned to live with the horror character as his servants after the slaying, according to investigators.

They lured Leutner into some woods at a park in May 2014 and stabbed her 19 times before fleeing, according to court documents. A passing bicyclist found Leutner, who survived. Police captured the two girls later that day as they were walking to the Nicolet National Forest, 300 miles away, where they believed Slender Man lived in a mansion.


Mysterious fungus killing snakes in at least 9 states

NEW HAVEN, Vt. (AP) - Hidden on hillsides in a remote part of western Vermont, a small number of venomous timber rattlesnakes slither among the rocks, but their isolation can’t protect them from a mysterious fungus spreading across the eastern half of the country that threatens to wipe them out.

In less than a decade, the fungus has been identified in at least nine Eastern states, and although it affects a number of species, it’s especially threatening to rattlesnakes that live in small, isolated populations with little genetic diversity, such as those found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York.

In Illinois the malady threatens the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, which was a candidate for the federal endangered species list even before the fungus appeared.

Biologists have compared its appearance to the fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats, which since 2006 has killed millions of the creatures and continues to spread across North America.

It’s unclear, though, if snake fungal disease, “ophidiomyces ophiodiicola” was brought to the United States from elsewhere, as was white nose fungus, or if it has always been present in the environment and for some unknown reason is now infecting snakes, biologists say.

“I think potentially this could overwhelm any conservation effort we could employ to try to protect this last remaining population,” said Doug Blodgett, a biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife who has been studying the state’s rattlesnake population for 15 years. “We don’t have any control over it. It’s just completely out there in the wild.”

Rattlesnakes were once found across much of the country, but habitat loss and efforts by fearful humans to wipe them out reduced their numbers, especially at the northern edges of their range.

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