Wednesday News, July 16
Work Release Inmate Escaped
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Officials say an Iowa man who escaped from a work release facility in the past has escaped again.
The state Department of Corrections says Cletus Armell was placed on escape status Monday after he failed to return to the Sioux City work release facility from an appointment.
Records show Armell escaped from a residential work release center in Sioux City in 2012. He was captured a short time later and charged with an additional offense.
Department spokesman Fred Scaletta says Armell was returned to prison after his 2012 escape. He was transferred to work release in November. He is serving a 15-year sentence for armed robbery.
Inmate Dies From Illness
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A prison inmate who beat a South Dakota farmer to death after meeting the man at an adult book store in Sioux City, has died.
The Department of Corrections says 46-year-old James Strahl died Monday at a Sioux Falls hospital after an extended illness.
He was sentenced in Union County in 2010 to 25 years for first-degree manslaughter and a consecutive 10-year sentence for grand theft.
The Dakota City, Nebraska, man was initially convicted of killing William O'Hare in 1998.
Prosecutors say Strahl had sex with O'Hare at O'Hare's farm house and beat him to death with a hammer when he refused to give Strahl a ride home.
Strahl was granted a new trial after a witness lied in an unrelated case but instead pleaded guilty.
Man Sentenced To 50 Years In Prison For Child Sexual Abuse
SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sac City man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for sexually abusing four girls. Thirty-five-year-old Christopher Carnine was sentenced on two charges of second-degree sexual abuse and two charges of third-degree sexual abuse. Carnine was ordered to serve two 25-year sentences consecutively, while two 10-year sentences will be served at the same time. Carnine must serve 35 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. He must also register as a sex offender.
Home Sales Decreased
(Des Moines)-Iowa home sales decreased by 3.4 percent over the first halfof this year compared to the first six months of 2013. That information comes from new data released by the Iowa Association of Realtors (IAR). Sales picked up in the month of June, however, according to IAR President Kathy Miller.
The median sale price of a home sold in Iowa last month was $145,000. That's down just one-percent compared to June of 2013 when the median price was $146,500.
The report shows the average days on the market for a home sold in Iowa dipped to 81 days, down from 85 days in June 2013.
Run Off Elections May Replace Conventions
(Des Moines)-The potential price tag doesn't seem to be a deterrent to the idea of holding run-off elections in Iowa to choose party nominees if thewinner isn't chosen during primary voting. Under current Iowa law, if no candidate in a Primary Election gets at least 35 percent of the vote, party delegates at a convention choose their nominee for the November ballot. Representative Guy Vander Linden, a Republican from Oskaloosa, sponsored a bill last session that would have shifted to a run-off election instead.
None of the six Republican candidates in the third congressional district primary won at least 35 percent, so about 500 Republican delegates picked the nominee. That cost of running that convention was the responsibility of the Iowa Republican Party. Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, leads the Senate State Government Committee that consider switching to run-off elections.
It would cost counties at least half a million dollars if a primary contest for a statewide office had to be decided with a run-off election. Governor Terry Branstad says he's open to considering a run-off system, but the cost factor must be measured.
For Primaries and General Elections in Iowa, counties conduct voting in 1682 precincts and each precinct must be staffed with at least three poll workers. Counties pay those poll workers at least minimum wage for the 14 hours the polls are open. In addition, each county has a precinct for absentee ballots and some counties hire extra staff to count those early votes. Each county must budget for the cost of printing the ballots, too.
Feeding Wild Turkeys Now Illegal
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Council Bluffs has given the green light to a measure that bans residents from purposely feeding wild turkeys.
The City Council unanimously approved a second reading Monday on an ordinance that bans turkey feeding. The council waived a third and final reading, which means it will be in effect soon.
The Daily Nonpareil reports (http://bit.ly/W7ZHFF ) a first offense could result in a warning letter, and subsequent offences could lead to the fine. Growing a garden or flowers that attract the birds would not fall under the category of purposely feeding them.
Councilman Nate Watson says feeding wild turkeys causes a nuisance.
New Trial Given For Discrimination Case
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An appeals court has ruled a conservative scholar who sued a University of Iowa law school dean over alleged political discrimination can get a new trial.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that Teresa Wagner can get a new trial on her claim that she was denied promotions at the school because of her political views.
Wagner sued the school's former dean in 2009. A federal jury in 2012 ruled that no political discrimination took place, but they could not decide whether Wagner's equal protection rights were violated.
A magistrate judge declared a mistrial on the equal protection charge, and a district judge later dismissed it. That same judge denied an appeal from Wagner for a new trial.
Former Clerk Pleads Guilty To Embezzelment
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A former clerk for a northeastern Iowa town has been given 21 months in prison for embezzling more than $81,500 in public funds.
Former Masonville clerk Christine King was sentenced in federal court in Cedar Rapids on Monday. She'd pleaded guilty to mail fraud. She also was ordered to pay more than $81,500 in restitution to Masonville and $10,000 in restitution to an insurance company.
In a plea agreement, she admitted that she issued herself fraudulent payroll and expense reimbursement checks between July 2002 and October 2011.
King says she falsely inflated the balances on the town's bank accounts on reports provided to the town council and state auditor.