State Briefs 1/22/09

Man who fled to Mexico sentenced for murder

ROCKFORD – A 39-year-old Rockford man who fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution has been sentenced to 60 years in prison in connection with the 2001 death of Britton Tullock.

Brian S. Johnson was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Ronald J. White.

Johnson, who was free on bond, disappeared on May 28 moments before a jury convicted him of first-degree murder. He was found in September by Mexican officials who turned him over to the U.S. Marshal’s office in Mexico before bringing him back to Rockford.

The penalty range is 20 to 60 years. Johnson received the maximum sentence for this offense.

Tullock was found dead Oct. 20, 2001, in the back seat of his girlfriend’s vehicle parked in a wooded area. An autopsy showed Tullock died from “massive head trauma and several stab wounds to the head and neck,” Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia said.

Authorities said Tullock had only been dead for a few hours before being discovered by a passer-by.

Rockford Register Star

Students who skipped school for inauguration will not be excused

SPRINGFIELD – President Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday turned out not to be a “get out of school free” ticket for Springfield public school students.

School Superintendent Walter Milton has reversed a decision made by another administrator that would have excused inauguration-based absences, district spokeswoman Sarah Watson said.

As a result, students who skipped classes Tuesday, citing Obama’s inauguration as the reason, have been told the absences will be treated as unexcused.

Milton’s decision, according to a parent who spoke with him Wednesday to protest, was based on his concern that blanket permission to skip school for inaugurations could lead to abuse of the policy.

Milton also told the parent that state funding, which is based on attendance figures, could be cut as a result of such abuse.

District officials did not immediately respond to questions as to whether there was any spike in absences Tuesday.

Group trips students took to attend inaugural events in Washington were approved by the district in advance and were not subject to Milton’s ruling.

State Journal-Register

Lewis Black to return to Rockford

ROCKFORD — Comedian Lewis Black, known for his rants on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” returns at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, to the Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford.

Tickets cost $55 and $42.50. They will go on sale this summer.

Black, a political humorist, performed at the Coronado in 2003. For information, go to lewisblack.com.

Rockford Register Star

Mercer County Clerk dead of self-inflicted gunshot

ALEDO – The Mercer County Coroner’s office has confirmed that Mercer County Clerk Tom Hanson died Thursday morning from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

His body was found just after 10 a.m. near his vehicle, which was parked at the city of Aledo’s south lagoon, just south of the Mercer County Fairgrounds. He was 61.

Hanson was re-elected to a fifth term in office in 2006. He was first elected in 1990. Hanson received statewide recognition in 2006, serving as president of the Illinois Association of County Officials.

“He was a great citizen,” said Mercer County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Dick Maynard. “The community and his family will truly miss him.”

Maynard approached Hanson to run for office in 1990.

The Aledo Police Department and Mercer County Coroner’s office are handling the investigation. No other details have been released.

Galesburg Register-Mail