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Fitchburg woman crashes, suspected of 5th OWI

A Fitchburg woman involved in a single-vehicle crash in Rock County is suspected of fifth-offense operating while intoxicated, according to a release from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were called to a crash near 3329 N. Burdick Road at 5:32 p.m. Thursday. They said they found a Honda Accord in the northbound lane had struck a tree and smoke was beginning to come from under the hood.

The driver, Sheli Ripp, 43, was lying unresponsive across the front driver and passenger seats, according to the report.

Investigators said Ripp was traveling south on North Burdick Road when the passenger-side tires entered the gravel on the southbound side of the road. Ripp overcorrected and the car began to spin as it traveled across the road. They said the front end of the car struck a tree in the ditch on the northbound side of the road.

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VASD decisions loom on land buys

Verona Area School District referendum passed on April 7, but the work to use the land still remains in front of district officials. 

The first step: Potentially approving options to purchase the Herfel and Erbach properties at the April 20 school board meeting. That is the last chance the board will have to officially approve options to purchase the Herfel and Erbach properties is at the Monday school board meeting, according to a Verona Press report. ... Read More

Jury hears 911 call, testimony from family during 3rd day of Steele trial

The family of the wife and sister-in-law of Andrew Steele spoke at his trial as a jury started hearing testimony from witnesses for the prosecution on Thursday.

Steele pleaded not guilty by mental disease or defect to the killings of his wife Ashlee and sister-in-law Kacee Tollefsbol last August in Fitchburg.

Before the victims’ family members testified Thursday, Steele’s defense called Fitchburg police officers to the stand to testify about evidence collection and notes written by Steele while he was in the hospital after the deaths.

Steele also told the court he would not testify, but the judge said he will get the opportunity again later in the two week trial.

Prescribed burn for Swan Creek, Crescent Road areas delayed

Prescribed burn for Swan Creek, Crescent Road areas delayed

A prescribed burn near Swan Creek and Crescent Road scheduled for Thursday and Friday has been rescheduled for next week, according to an alert.

The burn has been rescheduled for next week.

Weather permitting, Filed and Stream Restorations crews will conduct a prescribed burn on the North Waterway and the Big Bluestem Waterway in Swan Creek and off of Crescent Road between Apache and Red Arrow ponds, officials said.

Officials hope the burn will encourage the establishment of native prairie vegetation at the site.

“Prescribed burning is an excellent tool for suppressing weeds, reducing thatch and encouraging early native plant growth,” the alert said.

Crews will be equipped with several types of mobile water sources for fire suppression, including water backpacks and ATVs with mounted sprayers, officials said.

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2 charged with 1st-degree murder in death of man found in Lake Mendota

Three days after a body was found in Lake Mendota, two men were charged with homicide in the death, authorities said.

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The Dane County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday afternoon that Rudy Alberto Ramirez-Millan, 27, of Waunakee, and Juan Aguilar-Vargas, 27, of Madison, are being held in the Dane County Jail on charges of first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in the death of 23-year-old Jacob Payne, of Fitchburg.

Payne's body was found Saturday afternoon by a canoeist in Lake Mendota off Governor's Island, according to the sheriff's office. Detectives said the body had obvious signs of injury when it was recovered.

Payne did not have a permanent address, but had most recently been staying at a vehicle repair shop at 4260 Acker Road in the town of Burke, according to investigators.

Doctor: Steele’s note about sexual relationships with wife, sister-in-law was ‘delusional’

A forensic psychiatrist testifying in the trial of Andrew Steele said on Wednesday that a note left by Steele on a phone discussing suicide and sexual relationships with his wife and sister-in-law shows that he was "delusional.”

Dr. Doug Tucker said Andy Steele has "major neurocognitive disorder.” Steele suffers from ALS. He  pleaded not guilty by mental disease or defect to the killings of his wife Ashlee and sister-in-law Kacee Tollefsbol last August in Fitchburg.

He said Steele’s note about a suicide pact seems delusional and reflects brain damage.

The note, read to the jury Wednesday, claims Steele says he, his wife and her sister had "numerous threesomes" and had a suicide pact.

Tucker said there's no indication that Steele tried to manipulate results of his ALS testing. He said the killings are a "completely new behavior" for Steele. He said Steele’s personality is atypical for murder.

Defense makes opening statement, presents testimony in Steele trial

The first day of testimony ended Tuesday in the trial of a former Dane County deputy accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law.