EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The beating death of Cahokia man whose body was found in an Illinois state park has been ruled a homicide due to blunt force trauma.
The Telegraph in Alton reports that a Madison County coroner's inquest made the ruling Wednesday. The victim was 20 year old Dakota Jones. Three fishermen found his body in Aug. 11 in the water near a boat launch ramp at Horseshoe Lake State Park.
Coroner Steve Nonn testified to the coroner's jury that Jones had evidence of severe head injury and his body "appeared to have been thrown."
A man paroled after prison time for killing an elderly woman in 1989 is accused in the death. Forty-one year old Scott Thompson of Centreville is charged with first-degree murder.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis police are investigating whether an officer's actions during a homicide investigation jeopardized murder charges against the mother of a 1-year-old whose body was found in a trash bin.
City prosecutors dropped murder and child abuse charges against Melissa Shawneece Jackson on Monday, a week before she was set to go to trial for the death of her 18-month-old son, Marquell. The infant's body was found behind their Jefferson Avenue apartment building in May 2011.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that an unidentified patrol officer was placed on administrative duty Wednesday as police conduct an internal investigation into his role.
Defense attorney Scott Rosenblum says the case collapsed after the officer testified in a deposition that he didn't alert detectives about incriminating statements made by Jackson's ex-boyfriend.
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is due back in a Massachusetts court for the first time since being arraigned on a murder charge.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Fall River Superior Court.
Hernandez was indicted in August in the killing of 27 year old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez's girlfriend.
He pleaded not guilty to murder and five weapons-related charges last month. His attorneys agreed then that he continue to be held without bail but reserved the right to seek it later. The defense says the state will not be able to prove its case during a jury trial.
Four others, including Hernandez's girlfriend and cousin, are facing charges in the case.
A death penalty case in St. Charles County is the first in more than a decade.
Sixty-three year old Terry Culberson is accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend, 55 year old Dorothy Hall in the face five times. Her body was found inside Culberson's O'Fallon, Missouri mobile home on February 5, 2013.
St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar says the brutality of the murder was a factor in deciding to ask for the death penalty. "St. Charles County has not requested a death penalty since 2002, so it's a very unique situation," he said.
Lohmar says Culberson's past conviction for assault with the intent to kill was also a factor. A trial date has not yet been set.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis prosecutors have dropped murder charges against a 31-year-old man in a 2009 double slaying in a Schnucks grocery store parking lot.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that first-degree murder charges against Jimmy Love-El were dismissed on Tuesday before his expected trial.
He was accused of killing 23-year-old Dwone Curry and 22-year-old Archie White during a drug deal outside the Schnucks store at 3441 Union Boulevard.
Love-El was accused of shooting each man in the head and taking their cellphones and drugs before fleeing in a car with a friend.
A spokeswoman for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office declined to discuss the decision.
A 2011 trial of Love-E ended in a mistrial when a judge said the defendant's condition after a jailhouse fight could prejudice the jury.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani court Tuesday indicted former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf on murder charges in connection with the 2007 assassination of iconic Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, deepening the fall of a once-powerful figure who returned to the country this year in an effort to take part in elections.
The decision by a court in Rawalpindi marks the first time Musharraf, or any former army chief in Pakistan, has been charged with a crime.
Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup and stepped down from office in disgrace nearly a decade later, now faces a litany of legal problems that have in many ways broken taboos on the inviolability of the once-sacrosanct military in Pakistani society.
He has been charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation for murder, said prosecutor Chaudry Muhammed Azhar.
The former army commando appeared in person during the brief morning hearing, and pleaded not guilty, said Afsha Adil, a member of Musharraf's legal team.
Bhutto was killed in 2007 during a gun and bomb attack at a rally in the city of Rawalpindi, the sister city to the capital of Islamabad. Prosecutors have said Musharraf, who was president at the time, failed to properly protect her.
The judge set August 27 as the next court date to present evidence.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March after nearly four years outside the country and vowed to take part in the country's May elections. But he has little popular support in Pakistan and ever since his return has faced a litany of legal problems related to his rule.
He has been confined to his house on the outskirts Islamabad as part of his legal problems, and was brought to court Tuesday amid tight security.
In addition to the Bhutto case, Musharraf is involved in a case related to the 2007 detention of judges and the death of a Baluch nationalist leader.
He's also faced threats from the Pakistani Taliban who tried to assassinate him twice while he was in office and vowed to try again if he returned.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Oscar Pistorius has been indicted on charges of murder and illegal possession of ammunition for the shooting death of the double-amputee Olympian's girlfriend on Valentine's Day.
A Pretoria court on Monday set March 3 as the trial date for Pistorius, who says he shot Reeva Steenkamp by mistake, believing she was an intruder in his home. Prosecutors say he killed her after an argument. The prosecution submitted a list of more than 100 witnesses.
Pistorius was in court for the indictment, and was seen crying and holding hands with his siblings before proceedings started.
He faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted of premeditated murder.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 20-year-old Ralph Alexander and 25-year-old Dontrell Sanders are both charged with first-degree murder and other charges. Both are jailed, Alexander without bail and Sanders on $250,000 cash-only bail.
Authorities say the men were involved in a drive-by shooting on April 5, then another shooting about four minutes later. Police say 47-year-old Tracy Jones died as he sat in a car in the second shooting. A 56-year-old woman survived a wound to the thigh.
That's according to police who day the body of 50-year-old Carmen Boyd was found by her landlord. Police arrested 37-year-old Kristofer McDavid Saturday. A day later, the St. Clair County prosecutor charged McDavid with first-degree murder.
Captain Jeff Wild, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad said Boyd and McDavid were acquaintances."It was not random. There's no randomness to this whatsoever. I would just leave it that it was a confrontation that led to the untimely death of our victim."
Police aren't sharing many details about the murder, but court records indicate that Boyd was stabbed. McDavid's bail has been set at five-million dollars.
Swansea Police Chief Mike Arnold says this was the first homicide in the metro-east community since 2006.
The prosecutor said Tuesday that Pistorius shot 29 year old Reeva Steenkamp four times through the bathroom door of his home in a guarded and gated complex in the South African capital, Pretoria. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court the door had been broken open.
The family of the 26 year old Paralympian and Olympic athlete says police evidence will show there should be no murder charge in the Valentine's Day shooting.
Pistorius, in a gray suit, blue shirt and tie appeared grim and solemn in court. He nodded after the chief magistrate asked if he was well.