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bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

SIU linebacker Bryce Notree (54) sacks quarterback Stone Labanowitz (6) and forces a fumble during a scrimmage at Saluki Stadium on Saturday morning in Carbondale.


032818-nws-beaty-print

MURPHYSBORO — Exactly two years after Carbondale musician Tim Beaty was killed in his home due to a nearby shooting, a Missouri man was found guilty on Tuesday of his murder.

After a seven-day trial, Travis Tyler, 23, of Cape Girardeau, was found guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm.

After hearing closing arguments from Jackson County assistant state’s attorney Casey Bloodworth and defense attorney T.J. Hunsaker from the Rosenblum, Schwarz and Fry Law Firm of St. Louis, the jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before reaching its verdict.

The reading of the guilty verdict on the first-degree murder charge was met with cries of relief from the Beaty family, along with cries of despair from the Tyler family.

Members of the Tyler family and accompanying parties were escorted out of the Jackson County Courthouse due to loud cries and screams directed toward Jackson County correctional officers.

After the family was escorted out, members of the jury requested officers walk with them to their cars.

Beaty’s father, Don Beaty, said nobody really wins in a case like this.

“I have a lot of compassion for the other family,” he said. “It hurts to see them like that. There’s no winners.”

He said he does feel like justice for his son was served Tuesday.

“I feel it was necessary for society and to prevent other such acts, hopefully,” Don Beaty said. “But there’s nothing happy about this.”

Bloodworth reiterated part of Don Beaty’s sentiment.

“There are no winners,” he said. “Needless to say, we are pleased with the result."

He also thanked the jurors for all their hard work through the six days they heard testimony.

“It was a difficult one for them to consider,” he said. “It was a tough case for everybody involved.”

The incident occurred after a fight broke out at a house party at 402 W. Walnut St. in Carbondale. Shots were fired outside the home during a dispute. Beaty, 41, was killed by a stray bullet while inside his home at 334 W. Walnut St. According to testimony during the trial, he pulled a group of girls inside his home to attempt to escape the gunfire before he was shot.

That bullet was proven to be fired by Tyler’s Glock 23 .40-caliber firearm.

Tim Beaty was a well-known drummer in the Carbondale music scene, who played in several rock and punk bands.

Nehemiah Greenlee, 26, suffered a nonfatal gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital that night.

A sentencing hearing for Tyler has been set for 9 a.m. Friday, June 1.

Tyler says he feared for his life

Before the verdict was read Tuesday, Tyler took the witness stand to tell his story about the March 27, 2016 incident.

He said the night was horrible and that he was fearful for his life.

“I had been fired upon that night and I almost lost my life,” he said in open court.

Tyler said he came to Carbondale with his cousin and a friend of his cousin in a red Dodge Charger on March 26, 2016. They went to Hangar 9, where he recognized about 15 people from Southeast Missouri State University, where Tyler was a student.

He said a man named Will Donegan got into a verbal altercation with another person at Hangar 9, but the incident did not turn physical. In fact, Tyler said he got between the two parties and said they weren’t in Carbondale to fight.

His group later attended an after-party at 402 W. Walnut St. A physical fight happened at the after-party.

Tyler said shots were fired into the floor during that fight, and he crawled into a nearby bedroom. After about 30 seconds, he said he went to leave out of the front door. While the door was open, he said two individuals, who he found out during trial were Greenlee and Anthony Jones, stepped in front of him and said he couldn’t leave through the front.

Tyler said he told the two men to “get the f--- out of my way. I have to get the hell out of this house.”

He said he was eventually able to squeeze through them, bumping Jones with his shoulder. Tyler said he was then pushed in the back by Greenlee.

He said Greenlee said to him, “You don’t have to push him like that.”

Tyler responded with “What?” He said Greenlee then pulled up his shirt, showing he had a weapon, and repeated himself.

Tyler said that is when he identified the firearm as a revolver and started to walk away with his hands up. He said when he made it to Beveridge Street, he heard Greenlee say “talk s--- now.” Tyler said Greenlee then raised his firearm and fired twice.

Tyler said he heard the bullets fly past his face, and then he returned fire until he thought his gun was out of ammo. He said he thought he was going to die from those shots.

Contradicting previous testimony by Greenlee, Tyler said he never went to his vehicle or popped this trunk to retrieve his weapon.

After the shooting stopped, Tyler said he got into this vehicle and drove back to Cape Girardeau with the same trio with whom he came to Carbondale. The three men made a stop at White Castle, and then Tyler went to his dorm room.

On cross-examination by Bloodworth, Tyler was asked about the fact that he could have chosen to leave his gun at home or in the car before driving to Carbondale and entering that party. Tyler said he could have, but chose not to.

Bloodworth also asked Tyler several times if he could have called 911, stopped at any police department to say he had been shot at, or engaged any of the several police officers on scene during the night in question.

Tyler said he could have done all those things, but didn’t. He said he didn’t know the procedure when talking to law enforcement because he had never had an encounter with law enforcement before that night. He said when he learned of Beaty’s death, he assembled a legal team, which also included T.J. Matthes of the Rosenblum, Schwarz and Fry Law Firm of St. Louis.

State's closing: 'That's murder'

“Two years ago, to the date, Carbondale was met with a barrage of gunfire from this defendant,” Bloodworth said during his closing argument, pointing at Tyler.

He told the jury this was not an intentional murder case, but through the actions of firing a gun into that house, he killed Tim Beaty.

“That’s murder,” he said.

He reminded the jury that bullets covered Beveridge Street that night. There were eight .40-caliber bullets, seven 9mm bullets and one .40-caliber live round. He also told the jury there were crowds of people running around the area while the shots were being fired.

“Every one of those shots came from Beveridge street,” Bloodworth said. “Those actions — and none other — killed Tim Beaty that night.”

He went on to say Tyler had no legal justification to discharge his firearm that night because there weren’t any shots fired at him.

“Nobody other than the defendant identified Greenlee as having or firing a gun,” Bloodworth said.

Defense's closing: 'They can't keep their story straight'

Hunsaker pointed to inconsistent testimony by eyewitnesses and detectives during the trial. He said the stories Greenlee, Jones and another witness, Joshua Bell, gave the detectives don't match the stories they told in court.

“They can’t keep their story straight,” Hunsaker said. “Because they are making some of it up.”

Hunsaker noted that Bell said at one point Greenlee was shot in the house and he was right next to him. A few days later, the story changed, and Bell said Greenlee was shot outside of the house.

Hunsaker continued to Jones’ story, saying he struggled to explain events that happened at the front door of 402 W. Walnut, including how many people were trying to get out of the door.

“The reason he can’t keep it straight is because he is making it up,” he said.

Jones testified earlier in the trial that he and Greenlee jumped in front of each other when Tyler showed his gun to them. They continued to jump in front of each other until they were in front of 334 W. Walnut St.

Hunsaker said Carbondale Detective Aaron Baril contradicted that theory, saying that happened because Jones needed an explanation as to why they were in front of 334 W. Walnut St.

Hunsaker also said the police failed to investigate as thoroughly as they could have, saying they didn’t ask enough questions about a bullet found by the St. Francis Xavier Church at 303 S. Poplar St., which is directly across the street from 402 W. Walnut. He said the police found the bullet after they had already constructed the narrative about what happened.

“They stuck to the narrative in a press release and case filings and ran with it,” he said.

Hunsaker said Tyler made a poor decision by leaving that night without talking to law enforcement, but he was 21 years old, in an unfamiliar city and scared. He said once he found out a man was killed, it left a lasting effect on him and it was something he knew he would have to live with for the rest of his life.

'Tim's family has to live with this for the rest of their days'

“Tim’s family has to live with this for the rest of their days,” Bloodworth said in a rebuttal to Hunsaker’s closing arguments. “Because he (Tyler) decided to play tough guy. Because he decided to shoot up Carbondale.”

He said there is no evidence there was ever another shooter, meaning Tyler acted as the aggressor.

“There were no shots before this defendant’s barrage of gunfire on Carbondale,” Bloodworth said.


bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

Travis Tyler is escorted from the Jackson County Courthouse on Thursday, March 22, in Murphysboro. Tyler was found guilty of first degree murder as a result of a shooting in March 2017 in Carbondale.


State-and-regional
Top aide campaigned during Legionnaires' crisis

SPRINGFIELD — While the Department of Public Health faced the baffling return of Legionnaires' disease at a state-run veterans home in 2016, a top administrator left to work on Republican campaigns for the Illinois House, records reviewed by The Associated Press show.

Erik Rayman, the chief of staff to Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah, took a leave of absence in October and November 2016, just two months after the return of the deadly disease at the Quincy veterans home that claimed 12 lives the previous summer and another last fall. Four new cases were reported last month.

The crisis at the 130-year-old campus about 310 miles southwest of Chicago has become a vexing political burden for Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who barely escaped a primary election challenge last week from a little-known state representative and faces a billionaire Democrat in November.

Rauner maintains that his administration has done all it can to stop the spread of the disease at the home, following experts' advice and making improvements to the facility. He even lived at the home for a week in January to get a closer look and show it is safe.

Rayman, 39, declined an interview request. Although it's unknown how central a role he played in the response to the Legionnaires' crisis before he went on leave, as Shah's chief of staff, he would have helped ensure that Shah's orders were carried out. Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said that when Rayman went on leave, an experienced replacement filled in for him. But critics question the wisdom and motives of replacing a key figure during a time of crisis.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat and chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, was incensed.

"Why is the chief of staff doing campaign work?" Cullerton asked. "I understand that people come out of different offices and take leaves of absences, but it's never a chief of staff. With everything going on in Public Health, the chief of staff is the most important person in that department."

Campaign documents show that for his political work during his 2016 leave, Rayman was paid $15,732 by the House Republican Organization, which ultimately picked off four state House seats controlled by Rauner's powerful nemesis, Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan. Rauner had made a political priority that fall of winnowing Madigan's margin, which is now 67-51.

Records show that Rayman also earned $28,719 in 2014 working on Rauner's campaign for governor, before he joined the Public Health Department in January 2015, when Rauner took office. Rayman health department salary is $125,000.

It's not unusual for agency staff members such as legislative liaisons, who deal with lawmakers in their official capacities, to take leaves of absence from the state payroll to run campaigns. It's highly unusual for a chief of staff. The Public Health organizational chart places the chief of staff and assistant director on an equal level, just below the director.

Sen. Paul Schimpf, a Republican member of the Veterans Affairs Committee from Waterloo, said a key to analyzing the situation is determining whether Rayman was personally in charge during what lawmakers have determined was a critical period in the Quincy saga. The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, after the devastating summer of 2015, installed a $6.4 million system in June 2016 to treat the campus water, which harbors the bacteria and sickens people when it's inhaled from water vapor.

In August 2016 the administration summoned a consulting engineer whose report listed nearly a dozen options for further remedial action, including an $8 million option for replacing critical portions of ancient, corroded plumbing that federal experts had flagged as a likely breeding ground for Legionella bacteria.

But Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Jeffries has told lawmakers that the administration took no action on the engineers' report because officials wanted to see if the treatment system fixed the problem. It didn't, as three more cases of Legionnaires' were confirmed in July of 2016.

"Time has borne out that that (treatment system) did not solve the problem, but at the time, they thought that was going to be the solution," Schimpf said. "It really would depend on if the chief of staff had taken personal charge of the response. If so, that's not something I would second guess, but it would make me raise an eyebrow."

Arnold declined to comment on whose idea it was for Rayman to hit the campaign trail, but she said Shah approved it. She noted there were no cases of Legionnaires' diagnosed during his absence, although the disease resurfaced after his return, claiming a 13th life last summer and leading to four new confirmed cases last month.

"IDPH continued to operate with a director, assistant director, and chief of staff," Arnold said. "The previous IDPH assistant director, Michelle Gentry-Wiseman, served as the acting the chief of staff."

Gentry-Wiseman was with the department from 1990 to 2003 and returned in 2015 as assistant director until retiring June 2016, Arnold said. And Rayman worked for a week with Gentry-Wiseman before departing to "ensure a continuity of operations."

"In October and November 2016, IDPH continued acting in its role as a technical adviser ... on infection control procedures and water remediation efforts the facility should be taking," Arnold said. "No cases of Legionnaires' disease were diagnosed during this period."


AP 

Contractors assemble pipes to flush out a fire hydrant beneath the water tower at the state veterans home on Sept. 15, 2015, in in Quincy.


Siu
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SIU
Union says 75 percent of SIUC faculty voted against restructuring; chancellor refutes claim

CARBONDALE — Seventy-five percent of faculty members voted to delay Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s academic reorganization plan, the university’s faculty union said Tuesday.

In a news release, the Illinois Education Association-NEA stated that a compilation of votes cast by SIU Carbondale faculty indicates the majority of tenured and tenure-track faculty oppose the chancellor’s proposed overhaul.

The contractual review process allows faculty to vote for an extension on proposed changes, slowing the reorganization process. 295 faculty voted to extend the deadlines for reviewing the plan, while 99 voted against such extensions.

There are 510 tenured or tenure-track faculty on campus in total; not every department participated in the votes, the SIUC Faculty Association said.

According to the release, some departments also conducted “straw polls” on the chancellor’s plan. In those polls, 79 percent — or 111 faculty members — voted against the proposal.

“These figures, which are the most complete data we have so far on faculty views, demonstrate what any objective observer on campus would have concluded long ago: most faculty simply aren’t buying what the chancellor is trying to sell, despite his claims to the contrary,” SIUC Faculty Association President Dave Johnson said in the release.

Montemagno

But Montemagno said information provided in the release was misrepresented.

“The Faculty Association’s continued efforts to mislead our community by misrepresenting information is a disservice to everyone who cares about the future of SIU,” the chancellor said in a statement.

Montemagno said that faculty votes to extend the review process are “just that — a vote to create time for more information and discussion as allowed in our collective bargaining agreement.”

He added that straw polls are a normal part of the negotiation process among faculty and that they are not final votes. Many have been positive, the chancellor said.

Intended to minimize redundancies and enhance campus-wide “synergy,” the chancellor’s plan would eliminate SIUC’s 42 departments and reorganize degree programs under newly formed schools. It would also do away with department chairs.

Montemagno has said that the shake-up would solve the university’s enrollment crisis by offering students more innovative, interdisciplinary programs.

Johnson said in the release that faculty who want to merge their departments into schools should be able to do so, but that Montemagno has provided no evidence to support his claim that eliminating departments will help enrollment.

“We’ve wasted a year on an impracticable plan our chancellor tried to impose on this campus, without providing any evidence that his plan would work,” Johnson said. “Faculty and students across campus have concluded that the chancellor’s restructuring would do more harm than good. It’s time to turn the page and come up with some concrete, practicable steps to address our declining enrollment and get our finances back in order.”

The chancellor said that his office “continues to be attuned to input” and has made more than 100 changes to the original proposals based on the feedback he has received.

“It is unfortunate that the union, rather than contributing to the discussion by forwarding constructive alternatives, chooses to misrepresent the process with misleading rhetoric. I support our collective bargaining agreement and continue to hope that we can move forward collaboratively rather than divisively,” Montemagno said.


Montemagno