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Downstate Illinois

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Booby trap killing echoes textbook case

Downstate man who set shotgun to kill a burglar was convicted of first-degree murder.

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U. of I. student charged with hate crime after noose found in Urbana dorm elevator

Andrew M. Smith was arrested Monday and charged with a felony hate crime count and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct for allegedly placing the noose there.

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Snakes and skinks and frogs (oh, my): Forest Service doesn’t want you to run them over during migration

Reptile (and amphibian) safety first: Snake Road in downstate Illinois is temporarily closed to cars so animal traffic, slithering or otherwise, can cross without getting run over.

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Illinois State Police trooper dies after being shot in East St. Louis

Trooper Nicholas Hopkins was shot during "an exchange of gunfire" while serving a search warrant, according to Illinois State Police.

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1 killed in fiery I-55 crash after semi plows into stopped traffic near Channahon

Authorities shut down all northbound lanes of I-55 at milepost 239, just south of Lorenzo Road, according to Illinois State Police.

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Life in prison for man convicted of killing Chinese student

Brendt Christensen was convicted last month in the killing of Yingying Zhang. Her family and prosecutors pushed for the death penalty.

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Lawyers for convicted murderer said client offered to locate Chinese scholar’s body

Brendt Christensen’s lawyers said he offered to lead police to the body of Chinese student Yingying Zhang in exchange for a life sentence.

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Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Fulton County sheriff’s deputy in Avon

Troy Chisum, 39, was killed while responding to a battery and disturbance call in Avon in central Illinois

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Brendt Christensen guilty in Chinese scholar’s death

The conviction was expected because Brendt Christensen’s attorneys acknowledged from the start that he raped and stabbed Yingying Zhang in June 2017. Prosecutors say he beat her to death with a baseball bat and decapitated her.

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Lincoln’s Bible displays his spirituality, belief in ending slavery

The Bible’s markings show the 16th president’s budding spirituality and his belief that God chose him to end slavery.

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Head of Council’s Black Caucus, pastors tell Justice Burke they want diversity — not another white judge — on bench

The 28th Ward alderman and church leaders are crying foul after Burke recommended Cara Smith, the chief policy advisor to the Cook County sheriff, to fill a vacancy left by a retiring African American judge.

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Springfield meteorologist who criticized TV station’s ‘Code Red’ weather alerts fired

A spokesman for Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the station, confirmed Joe Crain’s firing.

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TV station drops ‘Code Red’ weather alerts after on-air clash with meteorologist

The popular meteorologist’s absence from the air had prompted an advertising boycott, social media protests and a complaint from a U.S. senator.

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House clears budget, gambling measure that includes adding Chicago casino

After two days of shaky behind-the-scenes negotiations, House lawmakers left Springfield having passed a comprehensive spending and capital plan. The Illinois Senate plans to return for bill action on Sunday and must still approve the gambling measure.

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Six in 10 Illinoisans want recreational pot treated ‘just like alcohol,’ poll shows

The poll comes with less than two weeks to go before the end of the legislative session — and two weeks after an anti-legalization poll showed different results.

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DCFS review: Information lacking, investigators and case managers not in sync

The review evaluated the state's Intact Family Services. About 85% of those cases are handled by private companies, with the rest by the state.

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After troopers killed, Pritzker pushes bills to protect ‘our heroes’ on roadway

A question about Scott's Law would also be included in a written question on the driver's license test, should the legislation pass.

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Transgender inmate sues for transfer to female Illinois prison

An anonymous inmate named "Tay Tay" alleges that the Illinois Department of Corrections has failed to keep her safe at downstate men's facility.

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Senate leader: Lightfoot wants to do her homework on elected school board bill

Parents groups and incoming aldermen on Monday urged passage of a measure that would enact an elected school board in Chicago.

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Fact-check: Democrat blowing smoke with claim of decreased teen marijuana use

Cassidy sent us an email promising an aide would "share the studies out of Colorado," but nothing arrived as of our deadline.

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FBI investigating engagement ring given to ex-Gov. Pat Quinn’s press secretary

The FBI is trying to determine who paid for the ring former Pat Quinn press secretary Brooke Anderson got from her husband Lou Bertuca, the ex-governor’s 2014 campaign manager.

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Poll: Support for legal pot thinning

Illinois residents might not be all that high on legalizing recreational marijuana.

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Lightfoot cool to Peotone airport: Midway, O’Hare ‘1st priority’

That’s not a yes but also not a hard no, giving her ally, Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., space to see whether she can resurrect the long dormant project.

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Uber, Lyft drivers protest outside City Hall, globally ahead of Uber’s IPO

The drivers demanded an increase in their pay; a cap on the number of drivers allowed in the city; better safety; and more financial accountability.

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Transgender inmate seeks clemency — cites retaliation after reporting abuse

"Our understanding of this is that that the governor could make this happen tomorrow if he wanted to," said Sheila Bedi, one of Hampton's lawyers.

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Springfield pension shocker! … Some ‘good news’

"This is good news arriving at a good time," Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said.

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‘Disturbing’ DCFS audit shows spike in child abuse cases, swamped caseworkers

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office called the report a "disturbing illustration," while the newly appointed head of DCFS said it showed "serious lapses."

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‘Black and brown’ leaders: ‘We can do more together than we can do apart’

"[The issues] are identical except black people are in Cook County Jail, and Latinos are in detention centers," state Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch said.

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Madigan: Parts of legal pot bill ‘very controversial’ — passage ‘not guaranteed’

Madigan said the decision process for which businesses will receive new licenses would affect the vote as well.

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Medical marijuana growers see budding opportunity in legalizing recreational pot

A medical marijuana cultivation center in Elk Grove Village is financially banking on the state legalizing recreational marijuana.

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Pritzker’s character seen as fair game in new TV ad opposing his tax plan

The new TV ad questions why the state should trust a billionaire governor to enact a "fair tax" if he's under federal investigation.

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No degree? Fed’s study says Chicago is a tough place to work

In Chicago and other areas with plenty of college graduates, there’s evidence employers make that a prerequisite even for jobs that don’t need it.