Man pleads guilty in Jayme Closs abduction

A Wisconsin man charged with abducting 13-year-old Jayme Closs and fatally shooting her parents pleaded guilty Wednesday, bringing some closure to a case that made national headlines as authorities searched for the kidnapped teen for months.

Jake Patterson wept through the brief court appearance, struggling to utter the word “guilty” on two counts of intentional homicide, which carry a sentence of life imprisonment, and one count of kidnapping; the remaining armed burglary charge was dismissed during the hearing.

One of Patterson’s attorneys, Richard Jones, told the court the 21-year-old had “wanted to enter a plea from the day we met him.” Barron County Judge James Babler scheduled his sentencing for May 24.

Before leaving the courtroom, Patterson faced the gallery and said, “Bye, Jayme,” according to the Star Tribune.

Patterson was arrested in January and confessed to stalking Jayme and to later killing her parents, James and Denise, on Oct. 15. According to police, he kept Jayme captive in a cabin for 88 days. The teen escaped Jan. 10.

Deanna Paul and Amy B Wang

Appeals court unblocks Republican-led laws

A Wisconsin appeals court sided with Republicans on Wednesday and reinstated laws they passed during a lame-duck legislative session that weaken the powers of the Democratic governor and attorney general.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess blocked the laws last week as unconstitutional, finding lawmakers convened illegally when they passed them in December. The Court of Appeals for the 3rd District granted a request by GOP legislators to stay Niess’s ruling pending a full appeal, ruling that Niess underestimated Republican lawmakers’ chance of a successful appeal and injuries that result from enjoining potentially valid legislation.

Some of the laws remain blocked despite the stay, however. Another Dane County judge on Tuesday blocked some provisions he felt violated the separation of powers. That ruling still stands.

Republicans passed the legislation in December after Democrat Tony Evers defeated Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Josh Kaul defeated Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel in the November midterm elections. The laws were designed to weaken Evers and Kaul and guarantee Republicans could defend in court GOP-backed statutes Evers and Kaul don’t support.

— Associated Press

Two deaths in Seattle after shooting, crash

One man was fatally shot and another killed in an automobile crash Wednesday afternoon after a gunman opened fire on vehicles in a Seattle neighborhood, authorities said.

Two people also were injured, including the driver of a Metro bus who was shot.

Deputy Police Chief Marc Garth Green said, “We believe it’s a random, senseless act.”

The chaotic scene unfolded in north Seattle just after 4 p.m. Police said a man approached a female driver in the street and shot her. He then walked on and fired at a Metro bus, striking the driver, who was able to turn the vehicle around and drive away, authorities said.

The gunman than approached a second motorist and opened fire, killing a man in his 50s. After police arrived, the gunman fled in the victim’s vehicle, police said. He then collided with another car nearby, killing the 70-year-old male driver.

The suspect was taken into custody and brought to a hospital.

A spokeswoman at Harborview Medical Center said they received a man and woman in their 50s, and a 33-year-old man following the incident, and none suffered life-threatening injuries.

— Associated Press

Man who died in jail convicted of murder

A judge has convicted a man who died in jail after pleading guilty to murder in the 1988 beating death of a pregnant South Bend woman.

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge John Marnocha on Wednesday accepted the plea that 78-year-old George Kearney entered on March 11.

Kearney was scheduled to be sentenced Friday, but he died Sunday in jail. Prosecutors say that Kearney had been terminally ill and that his health had deteriorated over the past week.

Kearney admitted to killing 28-year-old Miriam Rice, who was abducted June 24, 1988, while walking her dog in a park. Her body was found about a week later, obscured by foliage.

Kearney’s former girlfriend, 56-year-old Barbara Brewster, also was charged with murder and is due to stand trial in June.

— Associated Press

Pittsburgh approves gun-control measures: The Pittsburgh City Council gave tentative approval Wednesday to gun-control legislation introduced in the wake of the 2018 synagogue massacre, an effort certain to be challenged in court by Second Amendment advocates who point out that state law doesn't generally allow municipalities to regulate firearms. The legislation would place restrictions on military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle that authorities say was used in the Oct. 27 rampage at Tree of Life synagogue that killed 11 and wounded seven. It would also ban most uses of armor-piercing ammunition and high-capacity magazines, and would allow the temporary seizure of guns from people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others.

Temple students get vaccine as mumps cases rise: Over 2,000 students and staffers at Temple University took advantage of free vaccine booster shots Wednesday as the number of mumps cases at the school topped 100. Philadelphia health officials said 2,285 people were given shots during the first of two clinics offering the MMR vaccine. The number of confirmed and probable mumps cases at the university has reached 106 as of Wednesday, according to the city health department.

— Associated Press