Jussie Smollett to be sentenced March 10 in hate crime hoax

CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett’s final act in Chicago may be coming soon. A judge on Thursday set an in-person sentencing hearing for March 10 for the former “Empire” actor, who was convicted by a jury in December of faking a hate crime attack on himself. During the brief virtual hearing, Criminal Courts Judge James Linn ordered both sides to submit a list of witnesses expected to testify at sentencing by March 3. He also gave Smollett’s attorneys until Feb. 25 to file any post-trial motions. A jury found Smollett guilty on Dec. 9 on five out of six counts of disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony, a...

Pair being held in connection with fatal shooting of 8-year-old Chicago girl, sources say

CHICAGO — A man and a teenager were in custody early Wednesday in connection with the fatal shooting of 8-year-old Melissa Ortega, who was shot in the head as she walked through Chicago's Little Village neighborhood with her mother this past weekend, sources said. A 16-year-old was being investigated as the possible shooter in the attack, according to sources. A 27-year-old reportedly was arrested after being stopped in a vehicle that police say was used during the attack. He was found to have a loaded, concealed weapon readily accessible as he drove, according to a police report. No charges h...

Former Northwestern professor sentenced to 53 years for slaying of boyfriend

CHICAGO — A former Northwestern University professor was sentenced to 53 years in prison Tuesday for the violent slaying of his boyfriend. Wyndham Lathem appeared at his sentencing hearing before Judge Charles Burns, more than four years after the fatal stabbing of Trenton Cornell, Lathem’s 26-year-old boyfriend. Lathem, 47, was convicted of first-degree murder in October after a nearly two-week trial. Burns said his sentencing range for Lathem was 20 to 60 years and that he believed 53 years to be “most appropriate” considering all of the factors at play, including the facts pointing to the k...

What is ‘stealth omicron,’ and how worried should we be about another COVID-19 mutation? Experts explain

CHICAGO — Chicagoans may be exhausted to hear anything related to a new variant or even subvariant of COVID-19, which has already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, sickened many others and caused two years of disruption. A postholiday surge of the omicron variant already has stressed hospitals across the country, bringing them to their breaking points. It’s also made many who are weary of coronavirus restrictions on their lives even more so. Now the World Health Organization is warning a new version of omicron is being seen in more countries and has said investigating it should be pri...

Complaints about long-term care in Illinois are usually dismissed — but woman’s case sheds light on how the system works

CHICAGO — One morning in March2021, at a nursing home in Evanston, resident Velta Saint registered an alarmingly low 44% oxygen level in her blood. Normal levels range from 95% to 100%, and one study recommends hospitalization for any patient with a reading below 90%. Medical workers tried to improve Saint’s respiration, then sent her to a hospital — which sent her back to the nursing home, before she was returned to the hospital, where she died. Saint’s ordeal came after her daughter, a registered nurse, said the home had been slow, in her opinion, to diagnose her condition and failed to trea...

2 brothers, cousin arrested in Illinois on charges stemming from US Capitol breach

CHICAGO — Three Illinois men were arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging they illegally entered the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. Anthony Carollo, 23, his brother, Jeremiah Carollo, 45, and their cousin, Cody Vollan, 31, were all charged with misdemeanor counts of unlawfully entering a restricted government building and disorderly conduct on U.S. Capitol grounds. Anthony Carollo and Vollan were arrested in the Lockport area and were scheduled to appear before a magistrate judge in U.S. District Court in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. Jeremiah Carollo, who lives in downstate Gle...

Lawsuit against Amazon expected in connection with tornado that left 6 dead at Illinois warehouse

CHICAGO — A lawsuit against Amazon is expected to be filed Monday by the family of a delivery driver who was killed in December after a tornado hit an Amazon warehouse downstate, according to a news release from the law firm retained by the family. Six people who had been working at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville died following the Dec. 10 storm, which left dozens dead across multiple states. Among them was independent contractor Austin McEwen, 26, who, like other workers, was allegedly required to work under conditions management knew to be unsafe, according to the news release. The faci...

Illinois GOP candidate for governor Darren Bailey got $231,475 federal paycheck loan in February. A month later, he gave his campaign $150,000

CHICAGO — Last July, Republican candidate for Illinois governor Darren Bailey took to Facebook to denounce both the extension of federally-enhanced state jobless benefits and Democratic President Joe Biden’s visit to Crystal Lake to promote his coronavirus relief agenda. “Here’s the dangerous slope that we are on in America,” the state senator and farmer from downstate Xenia said, while discussing Biden’s visit. “That’s exactly what we heard: Free stuff. Handouts. Don’t worry about it, the government’s going to take care of you.” “Friends,” he said, “that’s socialism.” But only months before, ...

Anxiety and pandemic fatigue are spiking amid latest COVID surge

CHICAGO — Like so many COVID-weary Americans, Kyle Hopwood thought the pandemic was winding down over the summer, as virus case counts in the Chicago area waned and life seemed to inch closer to normal. She was relieved after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and tentatively began dining at restaurants and resuming small get-togethers with loved ones. Hopwood and her fiance set a wedding date for September 2022, assuming that by then the pandemic would be a distant memory. But then came colder weather — as well as the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus — and infections soared on...

Jan. 6 revealed how color-coded and racially charged language can be

On one side, the violent visuals of Jan. 6, 2021, insist that this horrific moment was about the denial of one of America’s most treasured ideals — the peaceful transfer of power. On the other, that it was an act of committed patriots desperately fighting to save their country. Bypassing its hard surface reveals that this terrible juncture was also about language. More importantly, it concerns an invisible relation between language and color that distracts from the true problem — how we are ever to reconcile such profound differences. Yet despite the pain and disillusionment felt by all, if we...

‘How many people did I get sick?’ Testing positive for COVID-19 can bring feelings of guilt and shame

CHICAGO -- She’d thought through the travel for the holiday carefully. Working remotely, limiting activities to school-related outings and curbing any other possibility for exposure. And still, the second day of the trip, Christine Hutchinson’s nose felt sniffily. She thought it was related to travel, or simply being a Chicagoan: “Our noses run.” But when other people within the friend group her family had traveled with internationally also began feeling ill, she took a test. It came back positive for COVID-19. Now, quarantining in another country, the Chicago mom of two is wrestling with guil...

Family member forced 6-year-old into cold shower as punishment — after it killed him relatives hid the body

CHICAGO — The 6-year-old North Chicago boy reported missing before his body was found days later in an abandoned northwest Indiana house had been forced into a cold shower by a relative as punishment before he died, Lake County prosecutors told a judge Sunday. Damari Perry had been forced to stay in the running shower for an unknown amount of time before he began vomiting and became unresponsive Dec. 29, authorities said during a Sunday morning bail hearing for his older brother. That sibling, Jeremiah R. Perry, 20, was charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm to a child young...

US Rep. Kinzinger says he’ll focus on GOP anti-Trump movement rather than run for Illinois office

CHICAGO — Retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said in a video Wednesday that he will forego a bid for U.S. Senate or Illinois governor to focus on the fight against former President Donald Trump’s influence over the GOP. “This time last year I hoped victory would come in a matter of months. Now I see it will take years,” the six-term lawmaker from Channahon said on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “That’s why I’m transitioning from serving just one corner of Illinois into fighting this new nationwide mission full time,” he said. Kinzi...

14th Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden: ‘I really want to connect with as many people as possible’

CHICAGO — If it’s been said once, it’s been said many times. There’s just something about Chicago — you just have to see the number of former/native members of our community making moves in other cities and venues, including those helming some of the country’s notable archives at institutions in Washington, D.C. Native Chicagoan and former executive director of University of Chicago’s Black Metropolis Research Consortium Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty was recently appointed director of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. Evangelestia-Dougherty joins Lonnie Bunch, secretary of the Smithsonian...

Controversial Illinois freshman GOP Rep. Mary Miller to challenge primary veteran Republican US Rep. Rodney Davis after Trump endorsement

CHICAGO — Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, who has embraced the far right elements of the party’s ideology, announced Saturday she will challenge five-term GOP U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in the June 28 primary after she gained the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Miller had announced she would seek reelection but did not say where she would run until gaining Trump’s backing. Under a new Democratic-drawn redistricting map in which Illinois lost one House seat, Miller’s home in Oakland is just outside the new 15th Congressional District where Davis lives and is in the same dis...