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Morning headlines: Friday, May 27, 2011

UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock
A woman exits her destroyed home in Joplin, Missouri on May 24, 2011. The tornado that hit Joplin on May 22 has claimed 122 lives and is now the deadliest single U.S. tornado in about 60 years.

Joplin Tornado Death Toll at 126

The death toll from Sunday's devastating tornado in Joplin is now up to 126. Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr announced the updated figure to reporters Thursday after meeting with residents and government officials about plans to offer assistance to victimized residents. More than 900 people suffered injuries in Sunday's tornado, now considered the nation's single-deadliest in six decades.

According to the Missouri Dept. of Public Safety, more than 230 people have been reported missing.

Three Accused of Killing Elderly Southwest Illinois Woman for Bingo Winnings

Investigators believe three people accused of killing 85-year-old Yoko Cullen with a tire iron targeted her for $390 bingo winnings.

The Belleville News-Democrats says court records suggest the suspects staked out the Collinsville bingo last week where they knew Cullen played. Investigators allege Cullen was thrown into her trunk and driven to East St. Louis where she was killed after one suspect believed Cullen saw one of their license plates.

Charged with first-degree murder are 38-year-old Latosha Cunningham and 29-year-old Demarcus Barnes, both of Belleville, and 20-year-old Daquan Barnes of Granite City.

Former Mo. House Speaker Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Assault

Rod Jetton pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault on a Sikeston woman during a sexual encounter in November 2009. The 43-year-old Republican from Marble Hill was initially charged with second-degree assault, punishable by up to seven years in prison. He had been scheduled for trial June 2.

Following Jetton's plea Thursday, he was sentenced to probation and order to pay $950 in restitution to the victim.

Jetton admitted he struck the woman in the face and choked her before and during sex at her home.


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