Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - January 20, 1999, Alton, Illinois T Suspect backs out of deal Bv DENNIS GRUBAUGH * — I__• l_ I___Ll__. gible for “day for day” good time credii Bruce L. Steward Suspect in beating death By Telegraph staff writer EDWARDSVILLE — An Alton murder suspect refused a chance at a 20-year minimum prison sentence Tuesday and the prosecutor said he won’t be given a second opportunity. Meanwhile, the trial of a second suspect in the same killing begins today in Madison County Circuit Court. Bruce L. Steward, 24, was on the brink of completing an agreement with authorities to plead guilty to murder in the Aug. ll mob beating death of Richard Skelton of Wood River. In return he would have avoided a No guilty plea in mob beating trial and gotten the minimum sentence as long as he agreed to testify against other suspects in the case, authorities said. However, when Circuit Judge J. Lawrence Keshner began explaining that Steward would have to serve the full 20-year sentence, not half, Steward objected. Steward then conferred with his attorney, David Grounds of East Alton. Thirty minutes later, Grounds told the judge that his client was backing out of the negotiations. “Mr. Steward has informed me he does not wish to proceed with his plea,” Grounds said. Assistant State’s Attorney Don Weber said Steward blew his chance at a minimum sentence. Murder normally carries a penalty of 20 to 60 years in prison. “After this morning, he' will never be offered 20 years again. It will be more,” Weber told the court. Under sentencing laws revised in the last year, a person who has committed murder since June 1998 is no longer eii- credit if found guilty. Previously, such credit cut a prison sentence in half. Steward, of the 700 block of Central Avenue, is among eight adults who are charged with two-counts of first-degree murder in Skelton’s death. The trial of one of the eight, Taiwan M. Davis of Alton, is expected to get under way this morning. Jury selection took place all of Tuesday afternoon. Weber is trying the Davis case, as well as the planned cases for Elmer Moore, Christopher Smith, Antonio Williams and Glenn Taylor — all of Alton. ■ See SUSPECT, Page A-11 —— iii Wm.. & H y Mm :■ msseros ■ urn* , . The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN Francis Ashworth gets a kiss from her parakeet, Petey. Ashworth, a resident of the Olin Home, says she may sue the Madison County Housing Authority for harassment after officials allegedly threatened to evict her when they found the bird out of its cage. Alleged harassment has resident squawking By DARRYL HOWLETT Telegraph staff writer EAST ALTON - An Olin Home resident says she may take legal action against the Madison County Housing Authority for alleged harassment. Francis Ashworth, 57, said she believes the harassment started after an article appeared in The Telegraph regarding some residents’ complaints about heating and snow removal' at the Olin Home, 310 Smith St. “They believed I called (the Telegraph) about the problems because I’m the secretary with our tenant’s counsel," Ashworth said. “I did not call nobody. I have never called anyone at the Madison County Housing Authority. I’m getting a copy of my telephone bill to prove it." Ashworth believes the article caused the Madison County Housing Authority to conduct a “surprise" inspection inside her apartment. As inspectors entered Ashworth’s apartment, they were greeted by her pet parakeet, Petey. “They came to my apartment last week. Petey was fly- ■ See RESIDENT, Page A-11 Clinton lawyer opens defense By DAVID ESPO Associated Press writer WASHINGTON - White House Counsel Charles Ruff opened President Clinton’s impeachment defense Tuesday with ringing statements of Clinton’s innocence, an attack on the House’s “rush to judgment” and a fervent plea to the senators who will decide the president’s fate: “He must not be removed from office.” Speaking so quietly at times that some senators strained in their seats to listen, Ruff declared that “William Jefferson Clinton is not guilty of the charges" leveled by the House. Ruff spoke from his wheelchair, his breastpocket copy of the Constitution on a nearby table, a few hours before Clinton’s delivery of the State of the Union address across the Capitol in the House chamber. The awkward juxtaposition — a somber trial in the shadow of a moment of grand political pageantry — prompted some congressional Republicans to announce they would skip the president’s speech. Many more said they would attend oui of respect for the office if not for the current occupant. In an opening statement, Associated Press President Clinton gestures Tuesday while making his State of the Union address. See story on Page A-11. Ruff offered a point-by-point rebuttal of each allegation, criticized Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr for his handling of witness Linda Tripp and accused the House of “prosecutorial ... fudge” on one key piece of evidence. “We will defend the president on the facts and on the law and on the constitutional principles that must guide your deliberations," he pledged. On emotion, too, as he answered Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry ■ See DEFENSE, Page A-11 - SERVING THE RIVER BEND SINCE 1836 Vol. 164 No. 5 50 cents Wednesday January 20, 1999 fit the hoop ■Wood River over Civic Memorial, 47-40 ■Marquette takes Triad, 7645 PageC-1 I Today’s Food I On the Pope s plate I Nuns share recipes they will serve to Pipe John Paul II Page B-l The outlook Partly sunny and cooler; high 47, low 41 Page A-12 amma In the fast lane Take a look at some of what’s in store for this year’s auto show Special Section Good :Vr Mommy Area...........A-3, 8 Bulletin Board A-6 Business.........C-5 Classifieds........C-9 Comics...........A-7 Editorial..........A-4 Horoscope........A-7 Nation/World.....A-10 Obituaries........A-5 Bextermueller, Brass, Eberhart, Falica, Gaff inkle, Geisen, Johnson, Monaghan, Nicholson, O'Lander, Richter, Ryan, Saville, Stromske, Sproull, Turcol, Wallen Scoreboard.......C-2 Stocks...........C-6 Television ...... A-9 Weather.........A-12 Old log cabin becomes a mobile home By DARRYL HOWLETT Telegraph staff writer BETHALTO - As a jet soared into the skies over Bethalto Tuesday, a historic structure took a slower jour- «Tf that house icould talk. I ney to its new home. A log cabin, which was located inside -........ vwiiy i home form of bet it would tell a Robert lot of stories.” Sparks, made its way to a jim Roberson new location ... . . next to the Neighbor Bethalto __ Museum “This is what our goal was, to move it all in one piece," said Robert Sparks’ wife Sally. The cabin was placed upon a steel platform while being transported. The Sparks — along with sons Jonathan, 16, __Tony, 14, and on West Main Street. The cabin, previously located at 424 Fourth St., was discovered underneath the Sparks’ original home when the home caught fire last year. Sam, 9 — are living in an apartment in Bethalto until a new home is completed. The Illinois Historical Society says the cabin may date back to the late 1700s or early 1800s, making it one of the oldest structures in Illinois. Many residents and village officials feared that if a com- ■ See CABIN, Page A-11 '/MMY SIT 4*4 4 OMV. SM *»• J IO ehuum 'IOU* rn wmm> iiKF" rn | our Flags Motorr Inc. • MI min prices include all inee Mi tm Tea, license, doc fees extra 656-6340 WH mi 199 J Qua Hmm Like New! Oldsmobile So I (way 159 (I mi. N. off 270) / do ordii'ilte/ (itrn (Unbon The Telegraph/RUSS SMITH Workers with Summit Trucking and House Moving of Laramie, Wyo., begin the process of moving a log cabin, built in the 1700s, from its foundation on Fourth Street in Bethalto to its new location on Main Street, next to the Bethalto Museum.