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ILLINOIS-FATAL ACCIDENT

Police report 5 dead in Will County accidents

ELWOOD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State Police say five people were killed and five others injured in a pair of accidents along Interstate 55 in Will County south of Chicago.

State police say a speeding semi-trailer truck that abruptly changed lanes in a construction zone on I-55 near Arsenal Road caused a chain-reaction crash Monday three vehicles that were stopped. Four women, who remain unidentified, were killed.

Authorities say four people were injured in the crash that occurred in I-55's northbound lanes.

State Police Cmdr. Randy Ness says the truck driver underwent mandatory drug and alcohol testing, but wasn't in police custody.

Also, two semi-trailer trucks collided in the southbound lanes of Interstate 55 at U.S. 6. State Police say both drivers were taken to an area hospital, where one later died.

WIFE KILLED-HUSBAND CHARGED

Jury convicts man accused in wife's shooting death

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - A former Baptist missionary accused of shooting his wife to death on Valentine's Day of last year was found guilty of first-degree murder.

The (Peoria) Journal Star reports the jury deliberated for about 90 minutes Monday before finding Nathan Leuthold guilty in the death of 39-year-old Denise Leuthold.

Leuthold was accused of shooting his wife in their Peoria home so he could pursue an affair with a 21-year-old Lithuanian woman whom he and his wife sponsored to study in the U.S.

Leuthold's attorney argued that someone broke into the house, that prosecutors didn't prove their case against his client, and that there was no proof Leuthold and the Lithuanian were having an affair.

Leuthold faces between 45 years and life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 10.

FOX RIVER-DEATH

Authorities identify man who drowned in Fox River

CARPENTERSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Authorities have identified the missing swimmer whose body was found in the Fox River in suburban Chicago.

Carpentersville police late Monday identified the victim as Emanuel Mendieta-Ramirez. An autopsy determined the 27-year-old Mendieta-Ramirez of Mount Prospect drowned.

Authorities said Mendieta-Ramirez and two friends were fishing on the river Sunday morning when the victim and a friend jumped in. Both men struggled in the river's current, but one made it to an island, where he was rescued by fire department personnel.

The Daily Herald in Arlington Heights reports divers used sonar equipment during a search of the river Sunday, which led to the recovery of the victim's body.

Carpentersville is about 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.

BALLOT INITIATIVES-LAWSUIT

Court OKs expedited appeal of term limits case

CHICAGO (AP) - An Illinois appellate court has agreed to hear an expedited appeal of a ruling that banned a question on term limits from the November ballot.

The Chicago-based First District Appellate Court issued its order Monday.

Supporters gathered signatures to put a measure on the ballot to limit legislators to eight years.

But a lawyer for top Democrats sued, and a judge ruled last month the measure didn't meet constitutional requirements to be on the ballot.

The Illinois Supreme Court said last week it wouldn't hear an immediate appeal.

Supporters then asked the appeals court for an expedited process, because state election officials must approve the ballot by Aug. 22.

Republican Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur) is leading the effort. He's made it a major issue in his race against Gov. Pat Quinn.

BALLOT INITIATIVES-LAWSUIT

Court OKs expedited appeal of term limits case

CHICAGO (AP) - An Illinois appellate court has agreed to hear an expedited appeal of a ruling that banned a question on term limits from the November ballot.

The Chicago-based First District Appellate Court issued its order Monday.

Supporters gathered signatures to put a measure on the ballot to limit legislators to eight years.

But a lawyer for top Democrats sued, and a judge ruled last month the measure didn't meet constitutional requirements to be on the ballot.

The Illinois Supreme Court said last week it wouldn't hear an immediate appeal.

Supporters then asked the appeals court for an expedited process, because state election officials must approve the ballot by Aug. 22.

Republican Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur) is leading the effort. He's made it a major issue in his race against Gov. Pat Quinn.

DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER CLOSURE-LAWSUIT

Judge: Illinois can close developmental center

CHICAGO (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that the state of Illinois has the authority to close a southern Illinois center for people with developmental disabilities.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Aspen's 55-page ruling is a setback for parents of children served by the Warren Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.

The parents sought a preliminary injunction to block the closure of the center serving 250 residents.

But Aspen concluded the plaintiffs didn't prove they would suffer irreparable harm by the closure.

Rita Winkeler heads the Murray Parent Association and says she'll consult with the group's attorney about a possible appeal.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services says the ruling will help the state move from an "outdated system" of caring for the developmentally disabled.

ILLINOIS SCHOOLS-CONSOLIDATION

Regional Education Office consolidation not easy

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois state education officials say they're still working out the details of coming mergers of Regional Offices of Education around the state.

The State Board of Education approved a new map last fall cutting the number of regional offices from their current 44 to 35. The offices have a June 30, 2015 deadline to consolidate.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports regional superintendents have met a handful of times since then to discuss how to proceed and set up a basic timeline. But the transition is going more smoothly in some areas than others.

Regional offices of education oversee a number of districts in various regions. They handle school building inspections, bus driver training and professional development for teachers, among other things.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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