Saturday News, January 17
March 31 Set As Date For Neunaber Trial
(Le Mars) -- A pre-trial hearing was held Friday morning for Jonathon Neunaber of Akron. Neunaber is accused of murdering his mother Esther Neunaber. Both of his parents, Esther and Donald, were found dead at their rural Akron home last July. Neunaber was located a day later at LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Judge Steven Andreasen announced the trial date would be set for March 31st.
Judge Andreasen then gave instructions to the attorneys and scheduled additional pre-trial status hearing as a way for each side to be prepared for the trial.
The judge then asked each attorney if they have conducted an evidence "discovery" process, and whether that process is still on-going?
Neunaber was brought to the Plymouth County Courthouse by Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo and Deputy Sheriff Craig Bartolozzi, although he waived his rights and did not appear in the courtroom. Only Judge Andreasen, Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond, Public Defender Billy Oyadare (pronounced Oh-ya-dar-ee) and a handful of news media were present.
Grassley Favors XL Keystone Oil Pipeline
(New Hampton, Iowa) -- The U-S Senate is expected to vote on the proposed XL Keystone pipeline sometime this next week. President Obama has said he would veto any bill relating to the trans-national pipeline. However, during his weekly news conference Senator Chuck Grassley says there are three reasons why he supports the pipeline.
The republican senator says the pipeline would prove to be an economic boost, and he points to existing pipelines as examples.
Iowa State University Student May Have Been Killed At Hotel
AMES, Iowa (AP) - Officials say the Iowa State University student found dead in Iowa City last September may have been killed in a central Iowa hotel.
Information from a search warrant made public Thursday says 20-year-old Tong Shao had stayed in a Nevada, Iowa hotel from September 5th to 7th with her boyfriend, Xiandnan Li, the sole person of interest in the case.
Ames Police Officer Chad Lovig wrote in the report that he believes evidence of Shao's death might be found in the hotel room the couple last used and on hotel property.
Shao's body was found in the trunk of her car outside an Iowa City apartment building last year. On January 8th, the Johnson County medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Polk County's medical examiner says he's seen four times more flu-related deaths so far this season than he saw last winter.
Doctor Gregory Schmunk said Friday he's received 12 death certificates since November citing flu as a main or contributing cause of death. Schmunk says he received just three such certificates last winter.
Three are death certificates of children, most others of the elderly, and one of a 47-year-old.
Schmunk says the spike in flu deaths shows the seriousness of this year's outbreak, when the height of flu season hasn't yet hit.
The county medical examiner's office doesn't receive all death certificates, but Schmunk says he estimates that he sees more than half of Polk County's death certificates, which is Iowa's most populous county.
$86 Million Awarded To Companies For Job Creation
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded nearly $86 million to four companies to support job creation and expansion projects in the state.
The board announced the grants Friday, which will aid projects in Davenport, Ames, Charles City and Burlington. Innovation funding was also approved for three startups in Des Moines, Coralville and Clinton. The awards are meant to help create 96 jobs and spur statewide economic growth.
Such projects include the construction of a new facility at Davenport's Alter Trading Corporation and the addition of two production lines at the Italian-based company Barilla located in Ames.
Board director Debi Durham says providing both financial assistance and tax benefits to these companies aids the increase and improvement of opportunities for Iowans.
Republicans Set Up Debate Locations
CORONADO, Calif. (AP) - The Republican National Committee is announcing plans to hold nine presidential primary debates, with the first just seven months away.
RNC officials reported Friday the first debate is scheduled for Ohio in August. The announcement follows months of negotiations between media partners and a field of more than two dozen White House prospects.
It represents a sharp decline in the number of debates from the 2012 election season.
Specific dates were not announced on Friday, but the rough timeline includes debates in California in September, Colorado in October, Nevada in December, Iowa in January, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida in February. Another three debates are pending.
The shift is part of several rule changes designed to make the party's nominee stronger in the general election.