Effective Jan. 1 Illinois motorists will be able to drive 70 mph on interstate highways, including all of those in Southern Illinois, under legislation approved Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn. The legislation, Senate Bill 2356 had strong support in both the House and Senate, passing the latter 41-6 and the former 85-30. Among downstate lawmakers most affected by the change there was overwhelming support for the higher speed limit. The law permits Madison, St. Clair, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties to opt out of the higher speed limits by adopting a local law setting a lower speed limit.
Double murder suspect Danny K. Coston of rural Carmi avoided a scheduled jury trial Monday, opting instead for a stipulated bench trial before a judge. Following the day-long hearing, Judge Thomas Foster found Coston guilty of the August 25, 2012 shooting deaths of 17-year-old Jessi Evans of Norris City and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Jacob Wheeler of Centerville. The state has recommended a 53 year prison sentence, which was approved by the family of the two victims. Sentencing has been set for Sept. 17.
Formal charges were filed Monday against a former Carmi man accused of killing a Gibson County, IN woman over the weekend. Thomas Davidson, 25 faces four counts of first degree murder, a class-X felony charge of aggravated battery during the discharge of a firearm, a class-X felony charge of aggravated vehicular hijacking and a class-1 felony of aggravated discharge of a firearm. Bond has been set at $2 million. The victim, 58-year-old Sandy Burkhardt died from four gunshot wounds. Searchers found her body Saturday night in a corn field about a mile west of Bulldog Hill, west of Crossville.
34-year-old Terri Ann Scott of Thompsonville was injured Monday afternoon when her car crashed on Ill. Rt. 14 in rural Hamilton County. State Police say Scott lost control of her vehicle after her pacemaker malfunctioned. She was taken to the hospital in McLeansboro following the 2:48 p.m. accident.
The 17th annual White County crop tour is Wednesday. Results of the tour will be announced to the public on Thursday.
Edwards County property tax bills will be mailed out this week. The county treasurer expects to collect $5.1 million – an increase of more than $250,000 over last year.