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
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-
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
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, . 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-11Clinton 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
January 20, 1999
fit the hoop
■Wood River over Civic Memorial, 47-40 ■Marquette takes Triad, 7645
I Today’s Food
I On the Pope s plate
I Nuns share recipes they will serve to Pipe John Paul II
The outlook Partly sunny and cooler; high 47, low 41
In the fast lane
Take a look at some of what’s in store for this year’s auto show
Good :Vr Mommy
Bulletin Board A-6
Bextermueller, Brass, Eberhart, Falica,
Gaff inkle, Geisen, Johnson, Monaghan, Nicholson, O'Lander, Richter, Ryan, Saville, Stromske, Sproull,
Television ...... A-9
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 formof bet it would tell a Robert lot of stories.”
its way to a jim Roberson
new location ... . .
next to the Neighbor
“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
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
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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.