Morning headlines: Friday, April 22, 2011
Two Inmates Escape from St. Louis Justice Center
St. Louis police continue to search for two jail inmates that escaped from the St. Louis Justice Center located at 200 S. Tucker Blvd this morning. Police say 34-year-old Vernon Collins and 33-year-old David White escaped shortly before 7 a.m. and are wearing white t-shirts and shorts and white tennis shoes.
Collins is being held on charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disarming a peace or correctional officer. White is being held on charges of domestic assault, unlawful use of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child.
Flood Warnings in Effect for Portions of Missouri and Illinois
Forecasters are saying several inches of rain could fall over the mid-Mississippi River valley through the next several days, and the timing couldn't be worse, with the river already spilling over its banks. Flood levels are inching close to major levels at several Mississippi River towns. Hannibal, Louisiana and Clarksville are already seeing river stages more than five feet above flood stage, and the water is rising. Even Cape Girardeau in southeast Missouri is reporting a river level a couple of feet over flood stage.
The National Weather Service is calling for heavy rain through Friday, with a system stalling over the Midwest and continuing to produce rain well into next week. Some areas could get up to five inches of rain by Saturday night. Flood and flash flood warnings are effective for several counties.
Blagojevich Re-Trial Challenge: Finding Jurors Who Don't Think He's Guilty
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has encountered the first big challenge of his corruption retrial: finding jurors who don't already think he's guilty. U.S. District Judge James Zagel questioned about 20 prospective jurors yesterday. A number said they had heard about Blagojevich's case and already believed the accusations against him. But some potential panelists still told the judge they believe they can put aside their opinions and be fair in judging Blagojevich. Zagel agreed to eliminate about half of the interviewed jurors based on challenges from attorneys.
Blagojevich's first trial ended last year with jurors deadlocked on all but one count of lying to the FBI. He still faces 20 charges, including accusations he sought to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat.