BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip is stepping down from the bench as he defends himself against federal heroin and gun charges.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook resigned Wednesday through his attorney by letter to the chief judge, John Baricevic. Baricevic says the letter is brief and doesn't offer a reason for Cook's departure.
Cook was charged last Friday with possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances. He's pleaded not guilty.
The Illinois Supreme Court now must pick Cook's replacement.
A fellow judge, Joe Christ, died of a cocaine overdose in March while with Cook at the Cook family's hunting cabin in western Illinois' Pike County. That probe continues.
An Imperial, Missouri woman could spend a year in prison for beating her son's alleged heroin dealer with a baseball bat.
It took a Jefferson County jury about two hours Tuesday night to find 54 year old Sherrie Gavan guilty of third-degree misdemeanor assault.
Gavan admits that in December 2011, she hit Josh Loyd with a bat after seeking him out to tell him to stay away from her son, Clayton. Her attorney had argued "self-defense," saying Gavan had believed the teen was going to hit her with a brick.
Gavan says she just did what any parent would have done, especially a parent who knows what heroin does to their child. "It's like my husband said, there’s two ways out: you stop or you die," she said. "And I did not want to bury my son. I could not bury my son."
Gavin says even though she could go to prison, she'd do it again, because her son is alive, graduating high school with straight "A's" and getting ready for college.
The (Alton) Telegraph reports that Kenneth Harris Jr.'s body was found Tuesday in a car parked in a bay of a car wash in Wood River.
Deputy Police Chief Mickey Sabolo says the investigation points to a heroin overdose as the cause of the man's death, and no foul play is suspected. Authorities say drug paraphernalia was found next to the victim, who Sabolo says appeared to have died alone.
An autopsy was conducted Tuesday, but results weren't released. Authorities are awaiting results of toxicology tests.
A bill sponsored by Republican state Representative Bryan Spencer, would grant immunity from minor drug possession charges to overdose victims and people who get medical help for them. Ten other states, including Illinois, have already enacted the so-called "good Samaritan" laws. Spencer's bill is based on the Illinois model.
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he supports the measure, saying that saving lives is more important than pursuing minor drug charges. But St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch expressed doubts that the law would make much difference, telling the paper that people who abuse alcohol or heroin "aren’t the most responsible" people.
Advocates say the state can't afford to ignore the problem. They cite research by the Missouri Recovery Network and Roosevelt University, which suggests that heroin and opiate abuse poses a particularly deadly and growing threat in Missouri, especially the St. Louis area.