9-Year-Old In IL Charged With Murder; Planting Trees Alongside Crops; Paying College Athletes

October 23, 2019
 

The Woodford County courthouse in Eureka.

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On Monday, a 9-year-old boy from the town of Goodfield struggled to understand as a judge read murder and arson charges against him. We’ll talk about this central Illinois case with a legal expert and a reporter who’s following the story. Plus, a nonprofit wants more farmers to grow trees alongside crops. It’s meant to help both farmers and the climate by providing an alternative to corn and soy. And, Illinois could become the second state to make it legal for college athletes to make money off their celebrity. We’ll speak with the state lawmaker behind the legislation.

9-Year-Old In IL Charged With Murder

In April, a fire in a mobile home in Goodfield, Illinois, located between Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, killed five people, including three small children. 

Investigators say the fire was set intentionally, and earlier this month, they charged a 9-year-old boy with arson and the murder of five of his relatives. 

On Monday, the boy was read the charges against him by a judge in a Eureka courtroom. and reporters there said he struggled to understand the charges against him. 

Ryan Denham is a reporter with WGLT in Bloomington-Normal and was in the courtroom when the charges were read. Eve Rips is a clinical teaching fellow at Loyola University’s Civitas ChildLaw Center. 

Planting Trees Alongside Crops

When you think “Illinois crops,” two big ones come to mind: corn and soybeans, often as far as the eye can see if you’re driving down the interstate. Illinois farmers grow, sell, and in many cases, export massive amounts of both.

But there are also farmers who want to try something different. Something that they say is better for the soil, for the climate and in the long run, even their bottom line.

It involves planting trees alongside crops or livestock in a practice that’s often called “agroforestry.”  

Scott Williams is co-owner of Fields Restored in the town of Oregon, about half an hour south of Rockford. Kaitie Adams is the research and demonstration farm manager at the Savanna Institute, a nonprofit that aims to spread this practice to more farms in the Midwest.

Dana Vollmer reported on this for Peoria Public Radio. 

Paying College Athletes 

Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that will make it legal for college athletes to make money off of their name, image and likeness. California is the first state to have such a law.

And now, legislators in nearly a dozen other states have introduced similar bills, including here in Illinois. Lawmakers in Springfield are considering the Student Athlete Endorsement Act which, if passed, would go into effect in 2023. 

The NCAA has not been shy about criticizing the legislation. In a statement, the organization wrote that the California law will "erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics."

Democratic State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch proposed the Student Athlete Endorsement Act. He represents Illinois’ 7th district which that includes the western Chicago suburbs of Forest Park, Maywood and Westchester. Teddy Greenstein is a sports writer for the Chicago Tribune.