Morning round-up
9:41 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Morning headlines: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Child abusers could face tougher penalties under Mo. legislation

People who injure or kill a baby by shaking the child could face tougher penalties under legislation moving through the Missouri House. The House has endorsed a measure expanding Missouri's child abuse law to specifically cover causing a baby's death or injury by shaking.

Sponsor Jeanie Riddle, a Republican from Mokane,  says current law makes it difficult to prosecute people when a child dies from "shaken baby syndrome." Her legislation would make it a crime to recklessly cause head injuries to any child.

A person who commits child abuse in Missouri currently faces up to seven years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Under Riddle's legislation, anyone who commits child abuse on a child under the age of 2 would face five- to- 15 years in prison.

Ill. parks could soon charge entrance fees

The free ride for visitors at state parks might be coming to end.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is considering selling annual stickers or charging a daily admission fee to get into the parks.

Budget woes have led the DNR to look for additional revenue.  

Chief of Staff Jay Curtis says he misspoke previously when saying that the department is in danger of closing down.

"What I was really saying was we need to find an alternative funding mechanism for the agency, to make us sustainable," said Curtis.

He says finding money elsewhere is necessary because of a decade-long pattern of the state giving the agency less. Curtis says he still wants the parks to be affordable destinations.

"Our parks are a place where people can go, and especially at a time where there's such budget problems for people in their homes to find a place that's cheap, inexpensive but good for their family," said Curtis.

The Illinois House agriculture committee voted Tuesday to allow admission charges although no amount was set. Curtis says despite that, DNR estimates it could bring in 8 to 12 million dollars a year with an entrance fee.

Illinois is one of seven states that don't charge one now.

Convicted killer charged with attempted murder of ESL cop

A convicted killer who ran away from a halfway house is jailed on $1.5 million bond on charges that accuse him of trying to gun down an East St. Louis police officer. Prosecutors in St. Clair County charged 36-year-old Cortez Gillum with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and a weapons charge.

Police say Gillum escaped in January from a Missouri halfway house and shot Officer Michael Baxton Jr. in the face when the officer approached him Sunday. Baxton has been released from the hospital. Gillum later was arrested at an East St. Louis housing complex.

Gillum was sentenced in 1998 to 10 years in state prison for second-degree murder.