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*** UPDATED x1 *** Does Illinois have blood on its hands?

Friday, Apr 15, 2011

* This is a truly horrific story

First, the Canadian man made sure the death penalty had been abolished in Illinois. Then he bugged his victim’s vehicle before tracking her down and shooting her to death. Then he turned himself in. […]

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Smirnov shot the Westmont woman several times in the head and body as she left her office at 122 W. 22nd St. At one point during the shooting, Berlin said, Smirnov reloaded his .40-caliber handgun and kept firing.

“Clearly, it was premeditated,” Berlin said, calling the fatal shooting a “gut-wrenching, senseless crime.” […]

Berlin said that before the defendant’s return to Illinois, he had researched the death penalty and learned it was recently abolished here. He said Smirnov came back to the area with a “preconceived plan to take life.”

More background

Vesel, 36, and Smirnov, who had once served in the Canadian military, had met through an online dating service in 2008, Berlin said, and Smirnov moved to the Chicago area to begin seeing her. But, after what Berlin called a “brief relationship,” Vesel resumed dating a previous boyfriend, the prosecutor said.

Smirnov returned to Canada but began harassing Vesel, who was living in Berwyn, by phone and the Internet, Berlin said. In 2009, Vesel filed a complaint with the Berwyn Police Department stating that Smirnov had threatened to harm her. She did not file for orders of protection in Cook or DuPage counties, Berlin said.

* I called State’s Attorney Robert Berlin this morning with a question. Did Smirnov decide to murder that poor woman before or after he’d researched whether Illinois had a death penalty?

Berlin said he didn’t yet know whether that was the case, but said an analysis of the alleged gunman’s computer will likely provide some answers. “I’m sure it will give us a lot more information.”

Berlin was clearly upset yesterday when he talked to the media

“Make sure Pat Quinn gets a copy of this story,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Thursday, reacting to Smirnov’s death penalty research. Berlin, a strong advocate of capital punishment, is an outspoken critic of the governor’s recent decision to abolish the death penalty in Illinois.

State’s Attorney Berlin said today that the comment came after the press conference had ended, and that while he didn’t regret saying it, he should’ve said “Governor Quinn.”

“The point I wanted to make,” Berlin said, “is that I want the governor and the General Assembly to be aware of the facts of the case.” Berlin says the state has debated back and forth for years about whether the death penalty is or is not a deterrent to crime. “I think this case proves that it is a deterrent,” he said.

“I do think there’s a good chance that if we still had the death penalty that this victim might still be alive. [Smirnov] might not have gone through with his plan,” Berlin said. Asked, however, if Smirnov had made any direct statements to that effect, Berlin said Smirnov hadn’t specifically said it.

* Obviously, this is a horrible turn of events. We might want to let this play out a little while before we jump to too many conclusions here. And this Smirnov guy is obviously quite disturbed. I can, however, certainly understand Berlin’s frustration and anger with the new law abolishing the death penalty. This is just an awful thing to happen.

So, everybody needs to take a very deep breath before commenting, please. Just because the media is screaming doesn’t mean we have to as well. Thanks.

*** UPDATE *** DuPage state Sen. Kirk Dillard is the first out of the legislative gate to use the case to argue that his colleagues need to at least partially reinstate the death penalty

Dillard said the state needs to reinstate the death penalty for the “worst of the worst,” which he said were serial killers, murderers of children and people who murder witnesses to crimes.

Dillard specifically mentioned the case of Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville as a reason for the death penalty to be revived. In July 2009, Brian Dugan pleaded guilty to fatally bludgeoning Jeanine on Feb. 25, 1983, after kidnapping her from her home on a day she stayed home sick from school. A jury later sentenced him to death.

This came years after two other men were convicted of Nicarico’s murder, then later cleared. These wrongful convictions became a significant part of the argument in whether to repeal the death penalty.

Dugan already was serving life prison terms for the 1984 murder of Donna Schnorr of Geneva and the 1985 slaying of 7-year-old Melissa Ackerman of Somonauk.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


45 Comments
  1. - Emanuel Collective - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:22 am:

    I certainly hope for the Attorneys sake the investigation shows that the murderer did indeed wait for the death penalty’s repeal before the murder, because otherwise those are some pretty inflamatory statements by the State’s Attorney.


  2. - Generation X - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:23 am:

    I am a staunch supporter of the Death Penalty when utilized properly. However, with the forethought and precision that this animal used to kill this poor woman I am quite sure he was going to accomplish it one way or another.
    I still believe it is a disingenous argument to assert the death penalty is not a deterrent. Too many individuals plead out for life, confess to crimes, or lead investigators to bodies to avois death for me to think otherwise. It weighs on a murderers mind


  3. - AlphaBettor - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:25 am:

    The post doesn’t mention that Smirnov’s first act after crossing the border was to purchase a gun in Seattle. In how many countries can a foreign citizen immediately arm himself? The victim would also be alive if Smirnov hadn’t been able to buy a gun. You can blame conservatives and liberals here.


  4. - Burb boy - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:29 am:

    No law can prevent someone from killing someone else, Alpha.


  5. - Ray del Camino - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:35 am:

    In any case, this would be argument by anecdote. The case of one sicko will never prove anything about the law or its effects.


  6. - 3rd Generation Chicago - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:37 am:

    Smirnov is a very disturbed individual, and would have evently done something crazy anyhow, regardless of the law.


  7. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:40 am:

    Researching the consequences of one’s actions doesn’t necessarily mean that Smirnov wouldn’t have killed her if the consequences had been different.

    What would Right Wingers say about a prosecutor who spun this crime as making the case for gun control?

    Should foreigners be able to obtain firearms in the United States?

    And if we really want Smirnov to get the death penalty (as opposed to using the crime to resume executions in Illinois) I’m sure there’s a way to kick this up to the feds. Crossing state lines and an international border to commit a domestic violence homicide with a firearm would seem to have lots of ways to get into federal court where the death penalty would be “on the table”.


  8. - Cousin Ralph - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:43 am:

    Assuming Smirnov researched the status of the Illinois Death penalty before embarking on his murderous plan, there is a much stronger nexus between this death and a Governor’s and a Legislature’s actions than there is between a low level employee taking a bribe to issue a CDL to a guy who was later operating a defective truck that cause the death of a young family in a following car. Just saying


  9. - Loop Lady - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:44 am:

    I saw this story on the news last night and was horrified…I
    I am anti death penalty, but the heinousness of this crime and the confession of the perp has me over the edge…he literally stalked her like animal knowing he would not pay for his actions with his life…

    Is he sane? Probably not.
    Can he be rehabilitated ?
    Maybe.
    Should the taxpayers be happy about the prospect of housing this guy for the rest of his natural life?
    I am inclined to say no…
    This item should prove to all the idealogues on this blog that there are never just a yea or nea response to any issue…


  10. - Springfieldish - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:52 am:

    The irony apparently lost on Berlin is that the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s repeated prosecution of Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez was one of the main reasons the death penalty was suspended and ultimately repealed. For him to utter such an inflammatory statement this early in the investigation smacks of using the tragedy that befell this poor girl and her family for purely political purposes. I would say it was shameful, but, for the DuPage County State’s Attorney, it was merely business as usual.

    And Berlin must not actually understand the concept of proof (scary thought as he’s the prosecutor). The absence of a punishment as a motivator for a crime neither proves nor disproves that the punishment was ever a deterrent in the first place. All he need do is ask the family of Jeanine Nicarico whether the existence of the death penalty deterred a heinous criminal in 1983.

    Just as the NRA condemns calls for gun restrictions in the wake of shooting tragedies, so too should we all condemn Berlin’s senseless, shameless and inconsiderate politicization of this tragedy.


  11. - Maria - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:52 am:

    I don’t believe Illinois law played a role in his decision, as said before the man was disturbed and would do what he intended no matter what. I bet life in prison will have him begging for the death penalty!


  12. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:52 am:

    If Mr. Berlin wants to assess blame for the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois, he can look no further than his office. If there’s blood on anyone’s hands in this case, it starts there.

    Without the egregious 20-year record of abuse of power and violation of their oaths by the DuPage State’s Attorney’s and Sheriff’s offices in the Cruz case, there never would have been a realistic chance for abolition.

    The facts in Wednesday’s killing have not been established; there’s been no formal charge, no discovery, no prosecution, no cross-examination, no defense. All that’s known is Mr. Berlin’s uncontested, next-day account at an initial bail hearing.

    The facts of the Cruz case are well-documented and beyond dispute. Sheriff’s personnel committed perjury on the stand. The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office knowingly presented perjured testimony at trial, and ignored and hid exculpatory evidence, including the confession of convicted serial killer Brian Dugan for 24 years.

    The results were that an innocent man was lined up to be executed three times.

    I’m not philosophically opposed to the death penalty. But the decades-long abuse of power by DuPage and other Illinois law enforcement authorities proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that ambitious Illinois politician-prosecutors can’t be trusted with the ultimate penalty.


  13. - soccermom - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 10:57 am:

    this is a tragic story, and Berlin is likely to regret trying to make political hay without knowing all of the pertinent facts. This is a young man who clearly had serious emotional problems, and who had been threatening his victim for years. Are to we assume that, since 2008, he had been following the political discussion over the death penalty in Illinois, and that only the Governor’s action led him to carry out this plan? seems highly unlikely.


  14. - Justice - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:03 am:

    It is a horrific crime that shouts out to us all. If he is declared insane, he could serve a short sentence, be rehabilitated, then move back to Canada?

    Regardless of the way the crime was reported to have been planned, it is likely that he would have found a way to kill her in spite of a death penalty or lack thereof and in spite of the fact he may not have been able to acquire a gun.

    I support the death penalty but understand the associated problems. I also support the right to carry and am neither right wing or liberal. Don’t really understand why labels must be used to support ones argument?


  15. - olddog - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:05 am:

    I thought Illinois’ death penalty was abolished because too many innocent defendants were sentenced to death and later exonorated. Here’s Gov. Quinn’s said when he signed the bill: “We have found over and over again: Mistakes have been made. Innocent people have been freed. It’s not possible to create a perfect, mistake-free death penalty system.”

    How exactly does this case, which hasn’t even been adjudicated yet, change that?


  16. - Ace Matson - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:06 am:

    I expect that, because there is no death penalty anymore, criminals and gangbangers will just kill all the victims and witnesses to their violent crimes. Little to lose, much to gain. Gangs do know the law. And wait until the first prison guard or inmate is murdered by a lifer, who also has nothing to lose by killing now. We need the death penalty to save innocent lives.


  17. - Aaron - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:07 am:

    I agree with several commenters here. Sadly, it’s not at all clear that the death penalty would have prevented this crime. I wonder if anything could have.


  18. - Dead Head - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:08 am:

    I think Springfieldish and wordslinger pretty much hit the nail on the head. What is it with DuPage county, are they all as crazy as it seems?

    As far as blood on our hands, we’ve had it for years. It’s just beginning to wash off!


  19. - wishbone - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:10 am:

    It is far cheaper to lock these creeps up for the rest of their lives. Our broke state can’t afford the death penalty.


  20. - Aldyth - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:13 am:

    We can “what if” this all day and still not know the answer. If he really wanted to kill her and the death penalty was still in place, would he have done it anyway and just made an attempt to escape?

    It’s all hypothetical.


  21. - dupage dan - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:16 am:

    I am a law and order kind of guy - not a proponent of the death penalty for a variety of reasons even tho I understand the desire to administer the maximum punishment to bad guys such as this perpetrator.

    A couple of notes - If Illinois had kept the death penalty and this nut job was determined to go thru with it how would he have proceeded? Tried to lure the victim to a more lenient state? It strains credulity. However, if the perp had made it back to Canada, and it seems as though he would have been able to since he turned himself in as opposed to having been apprehended, he could have fought extradiction until the death penalty was removed as a possible punishment. In fact, Canada has, in the past, declined to extradite US citizens back to the USA until the prosecutor promised not to seek the death penalty. I am sure the perp could have figured that one out, too.

    It is a horrible tragedy here. The demagoguery on the part of the DuPage SA is distasteful to watch. But we are likely to see more of it as time goes on. The death penalty as punishment will be an ongoing issue no matter what.


  22. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:18 am:

    –I expect that, because there is no death penalty anymore, criminals and gangbangers will just kill all the victims and witnesses to their violent crimes. Little to lose, much to gain. Gangs do know the law.–

    The highest rate of gang murders in Illinois occurred during Prohibition when the death penalty was in effect.


  23. - soccermom - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:19 am:

    And while I am not an expert in international law, it should be noted that Canada has a history of vocally urging clemency for Canadians convicted and sentenced to death in the United States. So it seems unlikely that Smirnov would have been executed even if sentenced to death.


  24. - Wensicia - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:37 am:

    To imply this murder took place solely because of the abolition of the death penalty is WAY over a line any state’s attorney should know better than crossing. Shameless political grandstanding of the worst sort. This sick man had been stalking this woman for some time, as happens with most of these kinds of murders. Berlin shouldn’t make inflammatory statements like these before a full investigation takes place. This is so disrespectful to the murder victim and her family.


  25. - dupage dan - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:39 am:

    The idea that the death penalty is a deterrent to murder is just not supported by the facts. wordslinger’s comment about Chicago during prohibition is a case in point. In addition, Texas has what appears to be the “fast track” to the death chamber with a high population in death row but also has a very high rate of murder. Of course, some will post that murderers given life sentences can still kill (other inmates, guards, etc). That is true - prison is a bad place.

    However, the ultimate penalty really is about retribution. You kill my kin, you should die. You take a life, you owe a life. I can even support that notion, in theory. However, in application, it is so horribly misused that it can’t be applied without all of us citizens perhaps being parties to the execution of an innocent person.

    Ain’t. Gonna. Be. Part. Of. That.


  26. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:45 am:

    –Dillard specifically mentioned the case of Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville as a reason for the death penalty to be revived.–

    That’s just simply bizarre.


  27. - Bill F. - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:51 am:

    “Make sure Pat Quinn gets a copy of this story,”

    Apparently conducting one’s self as a professional is not a prerequisite for serving as DuPage County SA. Of course, I think we already knew that.


  28. - phocion - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 11:56 am:

    None of Dillard’s exceptions to death penalty prohibitions would have applied to the scumbag Smirnov.


  29. - Esquire - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 12:06 pm:

    I expect that there will be increased calls to reinstate the death penalty following every heinous, premeditated murder. I think that Kirk Dillard is correct in that capital punishment needs to be available, even if the extreme penalty is seldom applied, for those criminals who are the worst of the worst.


  30. - Ahoy - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 12:17 pm:

    I hope they do reinstate the death penalty. It should have never been abolished. I would even be in favor of expanding it to the majority of murder classifications.


  31. - OneMan - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 12:41 pm:

    Besides the folks who seem ready to speak with authority about the man’s sanity and his motivations. I give you a lot of credit for being able to ascertain that from some media reports. You should be on CSI or at least criminal minds.

    That being said.

    If he did research the death penalty in Illinois that would seem to play into the idea of pre-meditation and eliminate some insanity defenses.

    As for the ‘he might have done it and then tried to escape’ if there was a death penalty that is illogical.

    Why

    Well Canada (like most nations without a death penalty) will not deport you to face a trial where the death penalty is an option. So it would have been logical then for him to commit the act and then return home. Even if he was caught entering Canada he would be a Canadian citizen in Canada subject to all sorts of protections provided to Canadian citizens.

    Finally, I suspect that lots of states attorneys across the state would have said the same thing if there was a murder in their area and there was evidence that the lack of a death penalty made a difference.


  32. - Ghost - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 1:03 pm:

    This person decided to take a human life.

    The idea that his actions were influenced by the rule of law is a ridiculous conclusion. The premedidtated decision to kill shows a socipathic personality which operates outside of societal or legal norms.

    He was going to kill her regardless of the death penalty, he was nuts.

    BTW what is the murder rate in IL now that we dont have a death penalty? we can spend all day trying to concoct antecdotal tales about mentaly ill people waiting to kill, butbeing concerned about the death penalty…

    But where are the psate of murders to back up this theory?


  33. - dave - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 1:08 pm:

    I expect that, because there is no death penalty anymore, criminals and gangbangers will just kill all the victims and witnesses to their violent crimes

    Sigh. Hyperbole much? Please show us any evidence that this has happened in any other states that don’t have the death penalty.


  34. - OneMan - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    == The idea that his actions were influenced by the rule of law is a ridiculous conclusion. The premedidtated decision to kill shows a socipathic personality which operates outside of societal or legal norms.

    He was going to kill her regardless of the death penalty, he was nuts. ==

    So everyone who kills is nuts then right? At what point is crime not because the person who did it was ‘nuts’? Is it armed robbery? Armed battery? unarmed battery? Speeding.

    Crime is ‘outside of societal or legal norms’ that is what makes it crime.

    Thats why we don’t send you to jail for buying your mom flowers but we might for stealing flowers for your mom.

    All sorts of crime is influenced by if is legal or not. You really think laws don’t prevent any crime?


  35. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 1:20 pm:

    phocion, read the bill

    A defendant who at the time of the commission of the offense has attained the age of 18 or more and who has been found guilty of first degree murder may be sentenced to death if:

    (a) the murdered individual:
    (i) was actually killed by the defendant


  36. - cermak_rd - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 1:23 pm:

    OneMan,

    I would put the dividing line at the point where the killer is doing fore-planning of his event due to a motive that is not understandable.

    So, the guy who kills pretty girls because they remind him of his first love and stashes the bodies under his house–nuts. The guy who kills his ex-lover because she rejected him–nuts (there are other women on the planet). The guy who kills his wife after stalking her–nuts. (other women). The woman who straps her kids into a car and sends it into the water–nuts (there are other ways to get rid of burdensome children).

    But, the guy who gets into a fight in a bar and kills the guy he’s fighting with–not nuts. The guy who kills his aged parent for the insurance money–not nuts he had an understandable motive (note-not a good person, but not nuts). The guy who kills his wife in the heat of an argument where there is no pre-planning–not nuts.


  37. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 1:29 pm:

    I think most people would consider murderous sociopaths like Manson and or even Mob hit men like Calabrese “nuts.” That’s not the same as “not guilty by reason of insanity.”


  38. - zatoichi - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 1:44 pm:

    Berlin’s doing an investigation and needs to stay with the facts of what his group is doing. The politics for the death penalty as a stopping a killing belongs on the campaign trail or an unrelated news article not here. If Smirnov was that determined, the status of a law was not going to stop him.


  39. - Seriously??? - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 2:08 pm:

    Lost in all of this is the fact that this poor woman was systematically harassed for years by this man. Violence against women is an issue that really has to start being taken seriously. Stalking of this type usually slowly escalates and then becomes violent. Where was her protection before he bacame violent? The story says she filed a complaint when he threatened her, what was the result of that? Don’t let the real issue be blurred by political posturing.


  40. - david starrett - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 2:37 pm:

    I’m with DuPage Dan here.

    Even if we accept the unproven notion that Smirnov made some kind of “rational” calculation here, the question remains as to what behavior(s) resulted from the calculation. It seems to me equally plausible to claim that this murderer’s decision to turn himself in hinged on the death penalty question. Had he not done so, it’s quite likely that he would not be in custody today and may well have escaped to Canada by now. In that case, Dan’s extradition scenario would play-out over the few months or even years.


  41. - phocion - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 3:07 pm:

    ==phocion, read the bill…==

    You’re right, had I read the bill it would have been clear that while Dillard made a public statement that made him appear to favor the death penalty only in limited situations, the legislation itself would merely reinstitute the former flawed system.

    “Dillard said the state needs to reinstate the death penalty for the “worst of the worst,” which he said were serial killers, murderers of children and people who murder witnesses to crimes.”

    And then some…


  42. - Responsa - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 3:14 pm:

    In reading this thread one wonders why we (commenters) cant ever admit that nothing in life is completely black and white. Why does it always seem to have to come across as advocacy?

    Yes, even if not in Illinois, somewhere, sometime an innocent person has probably been executed under death penalty laws. We absolutely need to make sure that does not happen in our criminal justice system. Likewise, sometime, somewhere a murderer will kill, or has killed, in a non death penalty state secure in the comfort and knowledge that he won’t be put on death row. That also needs to be accepted by people. Some murders are both so heinous and so clear as to the perpetrator is that there is no chance that an innocent person would be executed for said crime. That murderer should at least be eligible for the DP.

    The bill Quinn recently signed was ripe for compromise had he had the courage to veto it as it stood and then to insist on a better bill. Maybe there is still hope for a better bill.


  43. - reformer - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 4:16 pm:

    Dillard’s bill would apply only to the “worst of the worst,” such as serial killers. Consequently, if Vis Smirnov’s first victim, he wouldn’t be eligible for death under Dillard’s bill. That doesn’t stop the Senator from invoking an accused killer who wouldn’t be affected by the bill.


  44. - Jake From Elwood - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 4:44 pm:

    Isn’t the screen name “RobertBerlin=Liar” a gratuitous insult under the policy.
    It is at the very least immature and wrong.

    For all of the ignorant commenters on this post, do not impute Birkett’s flaws on Bob Berlin.
    Berlin is not Joe Birkett, Jr.

    Grow up.


  45. - amalia - Friday, Apr 15, 11 @ 4:51 pm:

    prayers and grief for the victim, Jitka Vesel. someone who actually died. not whose case was litigated over years and was pulled away from a death penalty. or someone pulled from death row even though the evidence was overwhelming. someone who was hunted like an animal by a hunter who knew he could still breathe after his kill. because he did the research.

    there is often talk of the scary prospect of even one death, even one mistake if the death penalty was in effect. what about when it is not? when the killer knows he can still read a book after he has taken a life?

    this is why the penalty should still exist. because it is something killers think about. not only do I believe that more of this type of thinking and killing will occur, it will also be more dangerous for criminals on the streets. because police will know that they face that danger they may be less hesitant to use force if it is safe in the surroundings to do so.

    and just because that is a very cost effective way of dealing with offenders does not mean it’s a good thing.

    pray for that poor woman, Jitka Vesel. she should not have died in our state in that way. yes, Rich, a truly horrific story.


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        * Everything old is new again..
        * Rauner proposes right-to-work zones in economic.....
        * Lawmakers split on term limits..
        * Police reform bills spurred by recent deaths, r.....
        * Correction: Illinois Governor story..
        * Quinn Awards Golf Maine Park Dist. $250K Grant,.....
        * Report: Illinois marijuana market could reach $.....
        * Which Colleges' Graduates Make the Most Money?..
        * The waiting..
        * Miller: Change, much of it painful, coming to I.....


        * Report: Illinois marijuana market could reach $36M in 2016
        * Gov. Rauner among nation's top donors in 2014 elections
        * Brothers accused of digging up graves, dumping remains
        * Police reform bills spurred by recent deaths, racial unrest
        * Judge upholds 122-year prison sentence in Romeoville slaying
        * Chicago Cubs' Ernie Banks statue moved downtown for tribute
        * Northern Illinois facility for juvenile wards closes
        * House committee passes ban on plastic beads polluting lakes
        * Chicago mayor places wreath Cubs great Ernie Banks' statue
        * Lincoln woman sentenced for embezzling $2 million from bank

        * Rauner among nation's top donors in 2014 elections
        * Police reform bills spurred by recent deaths, racial unrest
        * State's tax revenue from video gambling more than doubles
        * Report: Illinois marijuana market could reach $36M in 2016
        * Rauner: 'Right to work zones' are first-year priority
        * Rauner previews 'right to work zones' as first-year priority
        * Judge grants extension in Illinois prison crowding case
        * State lawmaker introduces bill to cut officeholders' pay
        * Proposed Logan County medical marijuana growing site gets high score
        * Illinois pays millions to keep inmates who can't find homes

        * McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is out
        * McDonald's inks lease for new digital digs in River North
        * Illinois marijuana market could reach $36 million in 2016
        * Chicago Tribune names No. 2 editor
        * Watch the Super Bowl ad that was so edgy, GoDaddy yanked it


          * Chicago man victim of road rage incident on Indiana interstate
          * For bus hero, instinct kicked in: 'I don't want to die tonight'
          * Cops warn of South Loop robberies
          * Sentence upheld for man who murdered ex-girlfriend in Romeoville
          * Mr. Cub takes up residence at Daley Plaza
          * Wheaton man charged with possessing child pornography
          * Museums reflect on lower attendance in 2014
          * 4 injured in daytime shootings
          * Mayoral candidate: CPS should drop fight over discrimination lawsuit
          * Second ex-Orland Park teacher charged with sex crime in a week


          * "This I Believe" Essay Contest Deadline Is Jan. 29
          * Cervical Cancer Awareness
          * What's Up With Chatham's Water?
          * New Chair Sworn In At ISBE
          * Rauner Raises Unions' Ire With Plan For Right-To-Work Zones
          * Rauner Raises Unions' Ire With Right-To-Work Plan
          * Rauner Wants Right-To-Work Areas in Illinois
          * Obama administration won't seek to end 529 college tax break
          * To protect his son, a father asks school to bar unvaccinated children
          * Grading Rahm: Public Safety


          * Rauner among nation's top donors in 2014 elections
          * Police reform bills spurred by recent deaths, racial unrest
          * State's tax revenue from video gambling more than doubles
          * Report: Illinois marijuana market could reach $36M in 2016
          * Tom Skelly: Chatham residents deserve straight answers
          * Michael Gerson: Republicans in the immigration minefield
          * Quote of the Day: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015
          * Rauner: 'Right to work zones' are first-year priority
          * Judge grants extension in Illinois prison crowding case
          * State lawmaker introduces bill to cut officeholders' pay


          * Clinton power plant back to full power
          * East St. Louis police investigate homicide
          * Former SIUE employee accused of lying to federal agents
          * 01-28-15 News-Gazette Prep Sports Podcast
          * Friends of Vander Veer to host Brides Bingo
          * Durbin eyes streamlining of food safety oversight
          * AUDIO: Urbana officials poring over safety sruvey results
          * AUDIO: Urbana officials poring over safety survey results
          * Oklahoma executions on hold as US Supreme Court reviews drug
          * Durbin meets with Air Force chief of staff to discuss future of Scott AFB, other Illinois bases


          * Principal in Diamond Lake District 76 leaves for neighboring district
          * Hoffman Estates Citizen Police Academy returns
          * CLC students take break from class to give blood
          * Should hotel remain a priroty for Fox Lake? Candidates can't agree
          * Des Plaines "emergency" blood drive set for Monday

          * Rep. Jan Schakowsky Statement Observing In...
          * Racine meeting explains Obama immigration ...
          * Rep. Jan Schakowsky Statement Against the ...
          * Renewed Voting Rights effort urged - San D...
          * Andrew HS Student Among Rep. Lipinski's Pi...
          * Officials get peek at Transportation Isola...
          * Univision's Jorge Ramos Goes “Full Gutierr...
          * Rep. Jan Schakowsky Statement on Martin Lu...
          * Gutierrez: Some GOPers Don't See 'Fairness...
          * Rep. Schakowsky Introduces Bill to Impose ...

          * GOP case against Loretta Lynch falls apart...
          * Lynch Pressed on Voting Laws at Confirmati......
          * Durbin eyes streamlining of food safety ov......
          * Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Create Single......
          * Safe Food Act of 2015...

          * Schumer Supports New Bipartisan Legislatio......
          * Truax forms PAC as Kirk shifts left...
          * White House thanks Senate Dems for more ti......

          * Roskam and Ryan Introduce Bill to Stop Political Targeting by IRS
          * EXCLUSIVE: COD Trustee Board Vice-Chair Kathy Hamilton urges colleagues to reject Breuder contract
          * McSweeney Introduces Legislation to Freeze Illinois Property Taxes
          * Chicago mayoral candidates challenging Emanuel want to remove red-light cameras
          * Illinois Tea Parties acclaimed for electing Bruce Rauner governor
          * CTU, Allied Groups Call For Quazzo's Resignation From Chicago Education Board (VIDEO)
          * Grassroots Illinois Action Announces Endorsements In Chicago Elections
          * Activists Bring Fight To Save A Rogers Park 'Community House' To Citibank (VIDEO)
          * Deb Mell Takes Heat For Family Ties At 33rd Ward Candidate Forum
          * Legal Marijuana Fastest Growing Industry - and Tax Source - In The U.S.


          * Governor announces latest round of agency appointments
          * Rauner announces “Turnaround Team” - Stellar team to help turn Illinois around
          * Commerce Department to Review Proposals for Enterprise Zones - Program Promotes Job Growth in Communities Across the State
          * Governor Rauner signs Executive Order for Minority and Veteran Empowerment
          * Governor Rauner Announces Second Round of Appointments




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