State Briefs 8/20/09

Replica of T-rex Sue’s head to be on display at fossil show

PEORIA – For the first time ever, a T-rex named Sue will be making an appearance in Peoria – or at least its head will.

Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil yet discovered, stands tall at the Field Museum in Chicago. A replica of Sue's head will grace the geology section of the Peoria Academy of Science's annual gem, mineral and fossil show this weekend.

Unlike the Sue at the Field Museum, the skull that will be displayed in Peoria is not the real deal. A full-sized cast of Sue's skeleton is the one used in traveling exhibitions. To rent the whole fossil, the organizers would have had to display it for three months.

Admission to the show is free. Representatives with the Illinois Geological Survey will be present to educate and identify items.

The show will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Peoria Journal Star

Bradley highly ranked among Midwest universities

PEORIA – Bradley University has maintained its position as a top Midwestern university in a prominent analysis of colleges across the country that was released Thursday.

The school placed sixth in U.S. News & World Report's ranking of Midwest regional universities that offer master's degrees as part of its annual publication of "America's Best Colleges."

Bradley has earned a top spot in the category for 11 consecutive years and is featured at sixth for the third consecutive year. The university dropped to fifth on a list of "Great Schools at Great Prices" from fourth last year and second the year before.

Peoria Journal Star

Woman sues Brookfield Zoo over fall

BROOKFIELD – A Chicago woman is suing the Brookfield Zoo, claiming she suffered injuries while visiting the dolphin exhibit in August 2008.

In a lawsuit, Allecyn Edwards states she was walking along the floor where the bleachers are at the dolphin exhibit, when the dolphins splashed water on her, causing her to slip and fall.

The lawsuit says that zoo employees “recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged the dolphins to throw water at the spectators in the stands, making the floor wet and slippery,” along with failing to provide warnings of the slippery floor or slip-resistant surfaces for visitors to walk on.

Brookfield Zoo’s Public Relations Director Sondra Katzen could not comment because the case was pending litigation. Calls to Edwards and her lawyer, Edward G. Proctor, Jr., went unreturned.

Edwards is seeking in excess of $50,000 to compensate for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering and physical and emotional trauma, all of which are permanent, according to the lawsuit.

Suburban Life Publications

Woman wanted for shooting arrested in Minnesota

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield woman who allegedly forced her way into another woman's bedroom and shot her in the torso late Saturday was arrested in Minnesota, Springfield police announced Thursday.

Geraldene Jo Harris, 23, has been charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. The U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force located her in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday.

Authorities allege Harris forced her way into the bedroom of another woman living near her and ordered the victim into the living room. Harris was allegedly questioning the victim about a computer and pulled out a small handgun, threatening to kill the victim, police said. Harris then forced the victim to go to another apartment.

The pair then came back to the original apartment, where the Harris allegedly shot the victim and fled, police said.

State Journal-Register

Travel agency owner says coughing caused her to crash car into business

PEORIA – The owner of Alexander Travel crashed her car into the entrance to the Metro Centre travel agency Thursday morning, sending herself and an employee to Methodist Medical Center with minor injuries.

Owner Janice Ierulli, 73, of Peoria and employee Ann Turpen, 56, of Chillicothe were injured during the incident about 10:35 a.m. Thursday.

Ierulli told police she was pulling into a parking spot in front of the business when she began to cough. Her foot slipped off the brake pedal, causing the car to drive through a glass door and window and the concrete base of the building.

Turpen, who was sitting near the front of the building, was struck by a desk that was pushed into her by the car, according to police. Firefighters had to pull Ierulli from the car, which was stuck in the doorway, before she also could be transported to Methodist.

Ierulli was not ticketed.
 
Peoria Journal Star

Former teacher sentenced to four years for sexually abusing student

PEORIA – A former Metamora Township High School teacher and soccer coach was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for sexually abusing a 16-year-old student in early 2008.

Stephen J. Chromik, 25, of Elk Grove also must now register as a sex offender and could possibly face more prison time, as he was on probation for felony aggravated assault from Tennessee when the offense occurred.

Chromik’s attorney Joel Brown sought the minimum of three years in prison, saying his client understood the seriousness of the charges. Such an instance, of Chromik abusing a student, was unlikely to happen again because as a sex offender, he would likely never teach or coach again.

However, Assistant State’s Attorney Brian FitzSimons contended that Chromik was dangerous and used his charm to get the teen to lie for him when she was confronted by school officials. He also successfully argued the earlier conviction from Tennessee meant Chromik was ineligible for probation and faced up to 14 years rather than seven years as is the normal range.

The student testified at trial that Chromik had sex with her at least once at his Peoria apartment and also tried to grope her at an equipment shed outside the school. There was another time that she testified she blacked out after drinking with Chromik and woke up naked but couldn’t recall what happened.

Chromik denied that, and Brown dubbed the girl’s story as a “drunken boast” at a graduation party that took on a life on its own.

With credit for time served and day-for-day “good-time” credit, Chromik could get out of prison in about 18 months.

Peoria Journal Star