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Around the Tri States: Jury convicts prison guard in beating death; Man arrested for sexual abuse of a child; Vehicles destroyed in fire

Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio

Western Illinois prison lieutenant convicted in beating death of inmate

A jury found a lieutenant at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mt. Sterling guilty for his role in a fatal assault on a prisoner.

The verdict against Todd Sheffler, 54, of Mendon came after a three-week trial. The jury deliberated for three hours before finding him guilty of five charges, including conspiracy to deprive civil rights and deprivation of civil rights under color of law resulting in bodily injury and death.

Sheffler is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6, 2023 at the federal courthouse in Springfield.

Sheffler and two other guards were charged with assaulting Larry Earvin, 65, in May 2018. Prosecutors said Earvin was restrained and handcuffed during the attack.

Earvin suffered numerous internal injuries and died a month later.

The other two guards involved in the attack are Willie Hedden, 43, of Mt. Sterling and Alex Banta, 31, of Quincy.

Hedden, who was a sergeant at the prison, pleaded guilty in the case and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 21, 2022.

Banta was convicted in April 2022 and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 20, 2022.

Man arrested for child sexual abuse in southeast Iowa

A Burlington man was arrested for sexual abuse of a child following a traffic stop.

Des Moines County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a vehicle driven by Derrick Lee Nichols, 28, and determined he was a convicted sex offender.

A five-year-old child was found in the back seat of the vehicle and was not related to Nichols.

An investigation determined Nichols sexually assaulted the child in rural Des Moines County.

Vehicles destroyed in Galesburg fire

No one was injured in a fire at a parking structure in Galesburg that destroyed five passenger vehicles and a motorcycle. The fire also destroyed half the parking structure, damaged two other vehicles, and caused heat damage to a nearby apartment building.

The fire department said it was called to the scene at 2770 Springer Road on Sunday night. Crews reported heavy flames and smoke.

The preliminary damage estimate is $275,000.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Golf carts now street legal in Monmouth

Golf carts and UTVs are now street legal in Monmouth – on some city streets, anyway.

After voting down an ordinance in July, the city council approved an amended ordinance on Aug. 15. The ordinance went into effect on Aug. 25.

It mandates the vehicles must be inspected by the police department, and operators must pay an annual $50 registration fee.

The ordinance also requires certain equipment to be installed on the vehicles, including a windshield, seat belts, and front and rear reflectors.

In addition, the vehicles cannot be operated on heavier traffic streets or truck routes, including Broadway, Main, the public square, and streets near the highway.

Burn ban in western Hancock County

The Warsaw Rural Fire Protection District and the Hamilton Fire Department have issued a burn ban for their coverage areas.

The departments said conditions are quite dry and open burning of any kind is prohibited.

The ban is in effect until further notice.

Rehearsals begin for Galesburg Community Chorus

All members of the community are welcome to join the Galesburg Community Chorus, which begins rehearsals next week. No auditions are necessary

The first rehearsal of the season will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29 at First Presbyterian Church, 101 N. Prairie St.

The community chorus is now in its 77th year.

The first performance of the season will be at 7:30 pm. Saturday, Nov. 19 at First Lutheran Church, 364 E. Water St., featuring Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria” for chorus and orchestra and Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” for chorus and organ.

Tri States Public Radio produced this report.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.