Afternoon Edition: March 6, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Valerie Teper, 33, died of a drug overdose in November 2016. Her mother is suing the Cook County medical examiner’s office to have her death reclassified from an accident to a homicide.

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Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

We’ve got a beautiful weekend on the horizon. This afternoon, we’ll see clear skies with a high near 39 degrees and a low around 25 degrees. After that, it’ll be sunny and breezy all weekend long: Saturday will see a high near 52 degrees, and Sunday will be even warmer, with a high of 62 degrees.

Don’t forget:We spring forward Sunday night.

Top story

Mother of Chicago overdose victim suing to get daughter’s death reclassified as homicide

The mother of a North Side woman who died of a drug overdose is waging a legal battle against the Cook County medical examiner’s office over its decision to classify her death an accident rather than a drug-induced homicide.

In late 2016, Valerie Teper, 33, was found dead in her apartment in the 1900 block of West Belmont Avenue. An autopsy found she died of poisoning from fentanyl, a powerful drug that dealers sometimes use to boost the potency of heroin.

Teper’s family says her death should be classified as a homicide under Illinois’ drug-induced homicide law. Calling her death an accident stigmatizes Teper because it implies she died from a bad choice, says attorney Terry Slaw, who is suing the Cook County medical examiner’s office on behalf of his wife Irene Rodik, who is Teper’s mother.

“The fact is that Teper did not die by choice,” Slaw says in a court filing. “She was murdered by someone who delivered her furanyl fentanyl.”

The lawsuit against the medical examiner is part of an ongoing controversy over drug-induced homicide laws in Illinois and elsewhere. Some argue that a fear of getting locked up on a homicide charge keeps people who sell or otherwise provide drugs from calling 911 when they see someone overdose.

Slaw says Illinois law should be changed to keep such “Samaritans” from being charged. But he and parents of overdose victims have banded together to demand that Illinois’ drug-induced homicide law be enforced as a way to target high-level dealers.

Reporter Frank Main explains the legal battle that’s underway.

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Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski resigned Friday.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Sen. Dick Durbin are endorsing Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary (our Editorial Board endorsed him today, too). Why they think he’d be a better president than Bernie.
  2. Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, who is also the mayor of McCook, had his McCook Village Hall offices raided by federal agents in September. Today, he resigned from the Cook County Board, according to a letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
  3. Chicago’s public transit agencies say they are working to keep trains and buses germ-free, but not necessarily taking extra steps, as more people contract coronavirus across the United States. We asked officials about their cleaning routines.
  4. A viral Instagrampostclaims that weed can kill the novel coronavirus. It isn’t true, bud.In fact, you might want to limit your joint-sharing in light of the spreading virus.
  5. UPDATE: The bar owner who gave up all food for Lent in place of beer, coffee, water and vitamins, has now lost 22 pounds. He’s also seen his doctor. Stefano Esposito talks to Patrick Berger.
  6. Here’s some good news for anyone who had plans to adopt a four-legged friend this weekend: dozens of cats and dogs displaced by recent tornadoes in Tennessee arrived in Chicago this morning. They’re receiving medical care so they can be ready for adoption.
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A bright one

Sofia Salinas and Oralia Villanueva both have parents born in the Mexican state of Michoacán, and both are bilingual teachers at the same elementary school in Little Village.

Now, after teaching side by side for nearly a decade, Salinas and Villanueva have something else in common: They are finalists for this year’s Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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Oralia Villanueva (left) and Sofia Salinas at Little Village Academy.

Carlos Ballesteros/Sun-Times

Salinas and Villanueva are among 30 finalists for the prestigious honor for Illinois educators, which gives 10 teachers $5,000 apiece and a tuition-free sabbatical at Northwestern University. Winners will be surprised in their classrooms with that news later this spring.

Salinas and Villanueva teach at Little Village Academy, 2620 S. Lawndale Ave., where nearly all of the school’s 730 students identify as Latino and qualify for free or reduced lunch. More than half are English learners, meaning it’s not their native language, according to Chicago Public Schoolsfigures.

“When I look at my bilingual students, I say, ‘That’s me,’” says Villanueva, who credits her parents and teachers with motivating her. “I understand what it’s like to come here and not know the language. So I want to help those kids because I was that student in high school that didn’t know English.”

Read the full story from reporters Carlos Ballesteros and Nader Issa.

From the press box

Young’s DJ Steward was named the Sun-Times high school basketball Player of the Year. Take a look at the area standouts on the Sun-Times All-Area team.

There’s plenty for Blackhawks fans to complain about, but the team actually does some things well, writes Ben Pope.  

The Brewers’ Christian Yelich got a nice contract extension, but the Cubs’ Javy Baez doesn’t care.

The Fire make their debut on WGN Channel 9 Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in a match against the New England Revolution; the Bulls and Blackhawks are in action Friday and Sunday; and spring training rolls on for the Cubs and White Sox.

And men’s college basketball conference tournaments continue with Loyola (Friday 6 p.m., ESPN+) and DePaul (Saturday 5:30 p.m., FS1).

Your daily question☕

Today is Employee Appreciation Day, so we want to know: What are some of your favorite things about the people you work with? Send us some photos of your work crew!

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you if you’d be able to commit to marrying someone sight unseen. (Inspired by Netflix’s new show “Love is Blind”). Here’s what some of you said:

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