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Complaint: Officers heard ?I am dying, I am dying?

Police found a home filled with smoke when they arrived at the scene of a double homicide in Fitchburg, according to a criminal complaint released Friday. Former Dane County Deputy Andy Steele, 39, appeared in Dane County Circuit Court Friday afternoon by video conference from Rock County where he's being held. Steele was formally charged Friday in the deaths of 39-year-old Ashley Steele and her 38-year-old sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota. He's charged with two counts of homicide, one of them with a domestic-abuse enhancer. "The charges here are the most serious crimes known to the law," said Dane County Assistant District Attorney Paul Barnett.  "They involve the violent deaths of two individuals, and the course of events leading to their deaths were, we submit, planned." Steele would face mandatory life in prison if he's convicted. Bail was set at $1 million. Court Commissioner Scott McAndrew said it's unlikely Steele would post bail, but if he does, there should be further review by the circuit court. He also ordered Steele to have no contact with the family of his wife, with his children, or with any members of the Dane County tactical team. Steele's attorney argued that the allegation of the deaths being planned was inaccurate. "I can represent that collaterals as well as my client report that there is no apparent motive and no history of domestic violence," said attorney Jessa Nicholsen.  "The parties were, up until these events, happily married and working as a team. Court documents detail more about what happened at the home at 3038 Yarmouth Greenway Drive. The first officer on scene said he found Tollefsbol in the home the afternoon of Aug. 22 calling, “I am dying. I am dying,” according to the criminal complaint [PDF] </blob/view/-/27792176/data/1/-/ds7so0/-/Steele-criminal-complaint--1-.pdf>. Tollefsbol was found just inside a basement door. The complaint states that when she was asked who shot her, she said, “My brother-in-law.” She was later pronounced dead at a UW hospital. Tollefsbol also identified Andy Steele as the person who shot her during a call to 911, according to the complaint. Officers also heard the sound of a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector coming from the home when they first arrived. Officers said they found Ashlee Steele with a zip tie around her neck, wearing a sleep mask, in bed, with a gunshot wound to her head, and a pillow with a hole in it. The complaint states that officers in the Steele home found Andy lying in the laundry room, with a dryer vented into the room, a gun on the floor and a charcoal grill burning. Officers said Steele was "alert and resistive" toward officers who entered. Ashlee Steele’s sister-in-law told police that she missed a call from Ashlee about an ice bucket challenge event at 9:45 a.m. the day of the homicide. She said she called Ashlee back at 10:14 a.m. and 10:25 a.m., but got no answer. She told officers it was uncharacteristic for Ashlee not to answer her phone. Andy Steele had resigned from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office after a diagnosis of ALS. He was involved in ice bucket challenge events before his arrest.  Steele's attorney says she doesn't think recent publicity about his ALS diagnosis was a factor. "The defense is working diligently to investigate, number one, if these allegations are accurate, and number two, if there is a medical or psychological cause for them," said Nicholsen. The complaint does not detail any interviews with Andy Steele or any information about a possible motive, but a source close to the investigation tells News 3 he did do an interview with investigators. "The criminal complaint contains what evidence is necessary to support the charges as we have issued here," said Barnett.  "That's as much as I'm prepared to say at this point." The court commissioner said he set high bail because of the nature of the case and also because prosecutors claimed Steele had access to family money as well as cash raised through ALS benefits.  Nicholsen said that money was to be donated to another ALS charity and he had no intention of using it for his legal defense. A funeral service for the sisters was held Friday afternoon in Stillwater, Minnesota, at the Church of St. Michael. A preliminary hearing for Steele is scheduled for Thursday.

Published: Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:08:30 GMT

Badgers once boycotted LSU football over integration ban

In his Kalamazoo, Michigan study, decorated with a Bucky flag and full-length sofa where he intends to watch his alma mater take on LSU on Saturday, Sidney Williams, Jr. expects memories to come flooding back. They're memories of the two games in 1957-58 that the two schools intended to but never played. The University of Wisconsin boycotted them because of a 1956 Louisiana state law that prohibited integrated sports contests. VIEW: 1956 Daily Cardinal story on LSU story [PDF] “It was a disappointment,” said Williams, Wisconsin’s starting quarterback and the first African-American quarterback in the Big Ten. “We did the right thing, but it was disappointing because we both had such good teams.” The Louisiana law had roots in the 1956 Sugar Bowl contest in New Orleans where LSU lost to a University of Pittsburgh team that featured Bobby Grier, an African-American running back. The next legislative session, Louisiana state lawmakers overwhelming passed a measure to “outlaw social events and athletic contests including both Negroes and whites.” When the bill was signed into law by Louisiana Gov. Earl Long, the younger brother to Huey Long, Wisconsin, the lone northern team on LSU’s upcoming football schedule, had a choice. It turned out to be an easy one for UW Athletic Director Ivan Williamson. “We have always entered into a contract for athletic contests with another institution on the basis that each school would have complete freedom to select its team members in accordance with the rules and policies of the institution and of the conference of which it is a member,” read the athletic department statement released on July 19, 1956. “We would be compelled to view any action that interfered with this traditional basic policy of freedom of selection as tantamount to forcing a termination of the contract. “We regret that the reported action by the State of Louisiana will apparently make it impossible for us to play Louisiana State University.” Besides the starting quarterback, UW had other African-American players like halfback Danny Lewis and end Earl Hill. Williams said his white teammates, many of whom had grown up in rural Wisconsin, like the future historian Stephen Ambrose, didn’t understand segregation. “They simply didn’t understand what the fuss was about,” Williams said. “They didn’t understand why I couldn’t go into a bathroom at the same time as a white person or go into a restaurant to eat with them.” Williams understood racial tensions all too well, having graduated from Little Rock’s Dunbar High School two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, ostensibly desegregating the nation’s schools. His uncles were integral in helping nine African-American students attend Little Rock Central High School three years later, an act which required the intervention of federal troops to desegregate that institution. He wanted to play football in the Big Ten and study engineering. He wrote to Wisconsin’s football staff, detailing his goals. The correspondence led to an academic and athletic scholarship for Williams, who initially played safety for the Badgers until the last two games of the 1956 season. As Richard Carlton Haney wrote in the autumn 2008 issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History, “Having tried five others at quarterback without success, Coach Milt Bruhn turned in desperation to Sid Williams to start the final two games.” On Nov. 17, 1956, he would score the game-tying touchdown against Illinois and make history as the conference’s first African-American signal caller. It was an opportunity Williams said he would not have received at a college in his home state of Arkansas or elsewhere in the south. “My teammates were unbelievably supportive. They had no problem with me as quarterback,” he said. “And outside of the normal back and forth, I never had any racial remarks from our opponents either.” Ambrose backed that up, writing in his book, “In America—Personal Reflections of an Historian,” “Sid and I were friends, and as he was easily the best athlete on the team, all the players were glad to have him as our quarterback. We were concerned with winning.” Williams would start in each of the following two seasons, the second of which led to a 7-1-1 record and a ranking as the No. 6 team in the country at the end of the 1958 season. That season LSU was undefeated and won the national championship. “We had to cancel that game because we couldn’t go down there without the full team,” Williams said. “But I think we could have beaten them.” Instead of playing LSU, Wisconsin scheduled and beat West Virginia at Camp Randall Stadium in 1957 and then traveled to Florida to play the University of Miami in 1958. Even though that state enforced segregation laws, the Wisconsin team stayed and ate together at a Miami Beach hotel as the downtown hotels wouldn’t accept African-Americans as guests. The Badgers would win that game as well. By then, the UW Faculty Athletic Board had passed a resolution, stating “Whenever a Wisconsin team plays another institution in any athletic event, the members of the team are to be permitted to travel together, lodge and dine together and play together as a team without discrimination.” Like so many other Wisconsin alums, Williams wonders when the Badgers take the field against LSU on Saturday, who will take the snaps. But maybe more important to the retired patent lawyer will be the quarterbacks expected to play for the Tigers. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are African-American, and the irony is not lost on Williams. “Both of those outstanding young men back in my time couldn’t have played for LSU, let alone been associated with the team at all,” said Williams. “I’ll certainly be watching (Saturday night), looking back. I know our running game will be fine and if we can get our passing attack going, we can get the victory over them we never got the chance to earn.”

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:25:54 GMT

Feral cat forces elementary school to close

A feral cat that's terrorizing students has forced an elementary school in Maryland to close. The ferocious feline is on the loose at Richard Henry Lee Elementary School in Glen Burnie. Animal control officers have set traps for the animal, but have been unable to catch it, Washington, D.C., TV station WUSA reported. The school was forced to close at 9:45 a.m. ET Friday. An estimated 500 students were either bused back home or waiting to be picked up by parents or guardians. According to the Capital Gazette, "the kitty hasn't scratched yet." But school officials weren't taking any chances. Traps will be set up for the kitty through the holiday weekend.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:48:43 GMT

UW-Platteville re-opens for school year after tornado

Just two months after a tornado ripped through UW-Platteville, students returned to a campus that looks virtually untouched. Back in June, an EF-2 tornado tore through the college's stadium and the rest of the community, leaving behind an almost unrecognizable campus. "It was devastating," said athletic director Mark Molesworth. "To come into this facility to see light towers down, and fences blown in and trees down and all the devastation, it was kind of heart-wrenching." "It was pretty earth-shaking," said Ryan Munz, an offensive coordinator for UW-P's football team. "It's one of those things you see on TV but you don’t think you'll ever experience."  Against all odds, UW-Platteville celebrated a grand re-opening just two months after that tornado, and just in time for the upcoming school year. Munz said that's thanks to the supportive community in Platteville. "The community comes together and it help you grow stronger, and you realize there's more support here than what you realize," Munz said. Construction still litters the football stadium, with repairs ongoing for at least another week. But coaches say the wait will only make their homecoming more meaningful. "It's going to be pretty exciting to have that first home game, because it should be a pretty electrifying experience for us to see that support," Munz said. The Pioneers' first home game falls on Sept. 13, and construction is expected to be finished by then.

Published: Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:22:09 GMT

Former head of UW Hospitals to get $1.3M severance

The former president and CEO of the UW Hospitals and Clinics will retire from her job Monday and yet still earn at least $1.3 million in severance pay. Records released to News 3 detail the exit agreement between Donna Katen-Bahensky and the UW, including how she will be paid her annual salary of $853,500 for the next 18 months. In addition, Katen-Bahensky will receive an "incentive bonus" earned during the last fiscal year, which will be calculated by the hospital's Executive Compensation Committee in the next couple of weeks. Katen-Bahensky's position was set to be eliminated after the integration of the UW Hospital and its physicians group and the UW Medical Foundation. Instead of facing the elimination of her position, Katen-Bahensky decided to retire. The exit letter, written and signed by David Walsh, the chairman of the UWHC Board of Directors, clearly states Katen-Bahensky would not have maintained employment at the hospital in the future. "Your separation will be treated as an involuntary separation occurring as the result of a major organization," reads the agreement also signed by Katen-Bahensky. "The Hospital has not offered you a reasonably comparable position. The fact that your separation is being referred to as a retirement publicly... does not change the nature of your separation which was involuntary but not for Cause." In addition to the severance package, both parties agreed not to make "any verbal, written, or electronic slanderous, derogatory, disparaging or negative statement against or about the other party." The hospital also agreed to provide Katen-Bahensky with a letter of reference. Katen-Bahensky started at UWHC in February 2008. Before that, she served as CEO at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The Associated Press reported she was fired from that position after she did not support a merger of the university hospital and the university's medical school. The wire service reported she was given $830,000 in severance pay at that time.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:51:51 GMT

Mom charged in connection to 1 1/2-year-old daughter?s death

The mother of a 1 1/2-year-old girl who died after a car versus pedestrian crash in 2013 has been charged in connection to the incident. Raya Hansen was charged Thursday with second-degree reckless homicide and child neglect causing death. Hansen was with the girl, who was in a wheelchair that was being used as a stroller, on East Washington Avenue around 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2013. Police said the wheelchair rolled down an embankment and went into the street. Hansen told police she was out getting fresh air and was going to Walgreens when she left the wheelchair unattended for a short time as she retraced her path looking for a baby bottle. She said she heard a crash and said it appeared the wheelchair rolled down a driveway and into the street. A court appearance has not yet been set.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 02:51:47 GMT

Advocates of man shot by police rally in Milwaukee

Supporters of a Milwaukee man shot to death by a police officer four months ago continue to press for answers. The family of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton held their fourth rally in the last two weeks Friday. Friends and supporters gathered at Red Arrow Park, where Hamilton was shot on April 30 when an officer confronted him. WISN-TV (http://bit.ly/1qon1JX ) reports demonstrators lay on the ground in the park, where Hamilton was sleeping when he was asked to leave. Hamilton's brother, Nate, says Dontre suffered from schizophrenia and was trying to deal with his illness. Dontre Hamilton's family has filed a notice of injury with the city, a procedural step that hints at a possible lawsuit. Police say the officer was acting in self-defense. But Hamilton's family says police haven't documented their claims. ___ Information from: WISN-TV, http://www.wisn.com

Published: Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:30:37 GMT

Many 6th-graders falling behind on required vaccination

Getting kids back to school is just one priority for parents. Another is making sure kids are caught up on their vaccinations. Many schools report that the biggest gap in school immunizations is with the Tdap, a vaccine that boosts protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) and is required for entry into the sixth grade. In July, the Madison Metropolitan School District sent 1,200 letters to parents of incoming sixth-graders who still needed their Tdap boosters. Other districts will be taking similar actions over the next couple of months. "Whooping cough is particularly hard on kids. While it looks like a common cold in the beginning, severe coughing soon follows. Even with treatment, extreme coughing fits may last several weeks," said Immunization Specialist for Public Health-Madison and Dane County Diane McHugh, RN. In 2012, Dane County reported 588 cases of whooping cough. While the number went down to 115 cases last year, the potential for another outbreak exists, particularly if kids are not receiving vaccinations. Parents can look up their child's immunization record by going to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry online at www.dhfswir.org or by calling their health care provider. PHMDC offers free vaccines for children with MA or BadgerCare or without health insurance. For more information about vaccines, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 23:14:44 GMT

Fitchburg community plans vigil for victims

On Sunday, at 6:30 p.m., the Fitchburg community will gather for a candlelight vigil to honor Ashlee Steele and Kacee Tollefsbol, who were murdered last Friday. The vigil will take place at the southeast corner of Rosecommons Park, bounded by Langford Terrace and Rosecommon Terrace. Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff, neighborhood residents, area pastors and others will deliver brief words at the vigil. A more formal service to honor the lives of the two women is being planned in the near future at The Church at Christ Memorial in Fitchburg, where Ashlee Steele was a staff member.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 23:33:01 GMT

Man critically injured in fall from moving vehicle

A man who fell from the roof of a moving vehicle in a Monroe County field has suffered critical head injuries. Sheriff's deputies say 22-year-old Joseph Miller climbed through the sun roof and was riding on top of the vehicle shortly after midnight Friday in a field on private property near Norwalk. He fell off the vehicle when the driver put it in reverse and struck his head on a rock. The driver took Miller to Franciscan Skemp in Sparta. Miller transferred to Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse with life threatening injuries. Sheriff's officials say he's currently in critical condition.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:12:18 GMT

Walker says budget will improve

Gov. Scott Walker says he will deal with a drop in tax collections by controlling expenses and by doing things to help the overall economy improve. Walker was asked about tax collections coming in 2 percent less than estimates on Friday during an interview on WTMJ-AM. Walker said he and Republicans who control the Legislature have been effective in keeping expenditures down, so that will be one approach during dealing with the shortfall. The budget is in balance this year, but based on current estimates it will now be $115 million in the red next year. Walker said he expects the economy will continue to grow next year, which will also help the state's budget. Democrats seized on the bad tax collection report, saying it shows Walker's policies are failing.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:55:07 GMT

Police: Student's BAC more than 4 times legal limit

A University of Wisconsin-Madison student was found heavily intoxicated stumping in a downtown parking ramp early Friday, police say.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:37:19 GMT

Taste of Madison will feature new beverage options

The Taste of Madison will feature two new beverage options that will showcase locally made products this weekend, according to a release. The Wisconsin Brewing Company and Wollersheim Winery will be serving beverages at multiple booths around the Capitol Square, organizers said. “Wollersheim Winery is honored to have our wines representing the local fruit of the vine at Taste of Madison,” Wollersheim Vice President Julie Coquard said in the release. Wollersheim will be serving its Prairie Fume, White Riesling, Blushing Rose and Prairie Sunburst Red, according to the release. Wisconsin Brewing Company will be serving its Golden Amber Lager and Ol’ Reliable. “We can’t wait to introduce all of Wisconsin to this new craft beer,” brewery president Carl Nolen said in the release. “If you’re looking for an awesome beer to drink, a wonderful flavor to enjoy, just an overall great beer-drinking experience, you can definitely rely on Ol’ Reliable.” Taste of Madison will also be featuring 30 musical acts performing three live stages, along with food from over 80 vendors, organizers said. The event is Saturday from 2-8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Published: Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:30:51 GMT

Former Oregon police chief under investigation

The former village of Oregon police chief is being investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice over allegations that may rise to the level of misconduct in public office, according to a statement. A report released Thursday by the village of Oregon Board indicates Douglas Pettit, who left the department in May for health reasons, used village resources while working off-duty at businesses that served alcohol and were subject to liquor-license requirements of the village. The board report also indicates other officers joined Pettit working security. "The board believes this behavior is reprehensible, inconsistent with village of Oregon rules and general expectations of professional conduct of law enforcement officers, and cannot occur for the sake of effective law enforcement services to our community. "Chief Pettit and the officers used village resources, including uniforms, squad cars, and equipment for this off-duty employment," the five-page report said. "Chief Pettit and village employees used village resources to communicate regarding off-duty employment opportunities, scheduling, preparing billing invoices, and to develop safety and security plans for entities outside of the village of Oregon." The report alleges that Pettit directed his administrative assistant and command staff to perform work in "furtherance of this off-duty work." One of the locations where Pettit and other officers allegedly worked was the now-closed Union Sports Club. The report said that Pettit did not report to the Village Board significant law enforcement activities at the bar, including drug, alcohol and physical violence incidents. The bar was denied a liquor license earlier this summer after board members discovered a list of violations that had not come to light earlier. "Chief Pettit failed to properly and fully inform the board of incidents occurring at the Union Sports Club that were material to alcohol licensing decisions," the report said. "Chief Pettit took measures to keep information about law enforcement involvement at the Union Sports Club from becoming public by requesting the removal of information from logs reviewed by the media on a periodic basis." Caesar Gonzalez, a former bartender at the Union Sports Club, said Pettit is a good man who was making an honest living providing security for the club as a second job. Gonzalez said Pettit became involved with the business when it started seeing larger crowds and bigger events. A message was left with Pettit's wife at his home. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined to comment. "We trusted the chief of police to do things right. He betrayed us," said Village President Steve Staton said. "I feel betrayed. Beyond frustrated, but it's even deeper than that. I have a lot of anger about it. You trust people to do the right thing. Chief Pettit didn't."

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:18:33 GMT

Recount flips results in Wisconsin Senate primary

A recount that did not include 110 missing ballots has flipped the results in a Democratic primary for a state Senate seat. GAB records show the recount ended Thursday with Spring Green attorney Pat Bomhack ahead of Ernie Wittwer by 33 votes. Wittwer is a former state Department of Transportation budget director. Election results posted last week showed Wittwer ahead by seven votes in southwestern Wisconsin's Senate District 17. If Monroe had used its election night results, Bomhack would still have won.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:05:59 GMT

Walker says GOP complacency a big concern

Gov. Scott Walker says complacency and fatigue among Republican voters is one of his biggest concerns as he faces re-election in less than 10 weeks. Walker addressed his concerns Friday on WTMJ-AM when asked about a poll released on Wednesday indicating that Democrats were more enthused about the upcoming election that Republicans. Walker calls that "one of my biggest concerns." The Marquette University Law School poll showed the race between Walker and Democrat Mary Burke to be a dead heat, both among registered and likely voters. Walker says there is Republican voter fatigue after the 2010 election and two series of recalls in both 2011 and 2012. Walker says in the coming weeks he will be announcing details about what he calls an aggressive agenda should he be re-elected.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:09:19 GMT

Man ordered to pay back victim in child porn case

A judge says a Wisconsin man convicted in a child pornography case in North Dakota must pay $3,250 to one of the victims. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said it's the first time restitution has been ordered in a federal child pornography case in North Dakota. He said it's the result of a new guidelines stemming from a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Fifty-eight-year-old Robert Evans, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, was found guilty in October 2013 on 14 counts of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced earlier this year to 10 years in prison. The victim submitted a claim for losses after Evans was convicted. The Supreme Court ruling in April held that possessors of child pornography may be held liable for a victim's losses caused by trade of images.

Published: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:42:44 GMT

1 killed, 1 injured in I-90 crash near Lake Delton

One person was killed and another injured in a crash along westbound Interstate 90 between Portage and Lake Delton, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol. The crash was reported at 6:25 a.m. Wednesday at mile marker 98. Investigators said the driver, Peter J. Miller, 58, of Racine, drove into the median for unknown reasons, over-corrected and lost control. The car crossed both westbound lanes, went into the right ditch, rolled over and landed on its left side. Miller was extricated from the car, according to the release. Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton EMS and the Lake Delton Fire Department assisted at the scene.

Published: Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:34:31 GMT

Police: Squad car struck by drunken driver

A Middleton police squad car investigating a rollover crash was struck by a drunken driver, according to a release from Middleton police. Officers were at the scene of a crash on the eastbound Beltline at Greenway Boulevard when just after midnight a vehicle struck a fully marked squad car with its emergency lights activated, police said. The driver, Paul L. Jones, 40, of Waunakee, was taken to UW Hospital for treatment, according to the report. He was arrested on suspicion of fourth-offense operating while intoxicated. The squad car was unoccupied at the time of the crash. The car sustained significant damage but no officers were injured.

Published: Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:34:43 GMT

State faces $281 million budget shortfall

Wisconsin tax collections are more than $281 million short of estimates, a drop that could require the Legislature to take action to keep the budget in balance. The state Department of Revenue on Thursday released the figures for the fiscal year that ended in June. Those figures show the state collected $281.2 million less than was anticipated by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau in January. That is nearly 2 percent less than anticipated. Gov. Scott Walker's office had no immediate comment. The Revenue Department said that the figures are preliminary and won't be finalized until mid-October. It also notes that additional changes are possible due to outstanding expenses and revenue collections.

Published: Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:49:23 GMT