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DeWitt County will have to pay part of LaGrone trial tab

DeWitt County will have to pay part of LaGrone trial tab

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CLINTON - Some expenses connected with an anticipated appeal in the Maurice LaGrone Jr. triple-murder case will be the responsibility of DeWitt County taxpayers, the DeWitt County Board learned Thursday.

DeWitt County Judge Stephen Peters told that board in a recent letter that the state Capital Litigation Trust Fund would not pay expenses in the LaGrone case after April 12, the day a McLean County jury found LaGrone ineligible for the death penalty. The state fund provides counties with assistance with legal costs in capital murder trials.

LaGrone was convicted of first-degree murder last week in the September 2003 drowning deaths of his former girlfriend's three children. Peters sentenced LaGrone to life in prison without parole.

The children's mother, Amanda Hamm, also faces murder charges, but her trial date has not been set. She still faces the death penalty, so her trial costs will be covered by the state fund.

County officials expressed concerns that the appeals process could be expensive in the LaGrone case.

"I would just like to know what to expect," said board finance Chairman Ed Young.

DeWitt County State's Attorney Jerry Johnson explained that several post-trial motions may be filed by LaGrone's court-appointed attorneys before a notice of appeal is filed. The county likely will be responsible for the cost of the circuit court motions in Clinton, said Johnson.

If the case moves from the lower court to the Fourth District Appellate Court, action there will be paid for by the state appellate prosecutor's and defender's offices. The county will not pay any of those costs, said Johnson.

The cost of the LaGrone case is approaching $1.3 million for the state capital murder fund.

Recycling update

The county's purchase of automated equipment for a recycling center operated by the DeWitt County Human Resource Center seems to have been a good investment, according to a report given to the board Thursday.

Cheryl Lietz, executive director of the center, said a second shift has been added two nights per week to handle the increased volume of recycled material.

Last year, the County Board paid $122,000 for equipment to automate the program, which employs adults with developmental disabilities.

"Our capacity has doubled in three months" since the assembly line has been fully functional, said Lietz.

Last month, the recycling program processed 90 tons of materials, more than double the amount handled during March 2005.

The second shift employs students from the Clinton Community High School special education program, said Lietz.

The next goal of the recycling program is to triple the amount of materials processed at the center, a goal Lietz said is within sight.

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