Briefs from around Western Illinois

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

 Peoria man withdraws guilty plea

Phouvone Sophanavong, a Peoria man accused of kidnapping and killing his wife in November 2013, rejected his attorneys’ advice in April when they told him not to plead guilty. Now he says he’s changed his mind.

Sophanavong, 45, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Langdao Phangthong, who was found shot to death in her parked car in Peoria a day after he allegedly kidnapped her as she arrived to work in Pekin last November.

On July 11, Tazewell County’s chief public defender told Chief Circuit Judge Michael Brandt that he would assign a new public defender to Sophanavong’s case in light of Sophanavong’s claim against his first two attorneys.

When asked by Brandt about his complaint against his two defense attorneys, Sophanavong said he did not fully understand the charge of premeditated murder.

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Rock-a-thon to benefit animal shelter

Newly formed nonprofit Friends of the Kewanee Animal Shelter will hold a rock-a-thon event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Main and First streets in Kewanee as part of the Prairie Chicken Festival.

Rock-a-thon participants will bring rocking chairs, find a spot and solicit donations for their time spent in their rocking chairs as they watch a mural being painted in honor of late Kewanee actor Neville Brand. All proceeds will be matched by shelter supporter Fulvio Zerla.

The volunteer group was formed to assist the Henry County Humane Society Kewanee Chapter with fundraisers and to help raise money with other projects to keep the Kewanee Animal Shelter open.

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Woman faces felony drug charges

A 40-year-old Canton woman faces felony drug charges after the execution of a search warrant at a residence on Pine Street yielded nine marijuana plants Thursday.

Carrie M. Weller is charged with unlawful possession of cannabis, more than 30 grams less than 500 grams, a Class 3 felony; and production of six to 20 cannabis plants, a Class 4 felony.

The warrant was the result of a two-week investigation that began with a complaint that Weller was allegedly selling marijuana to adults and juveniles.

Apart from the plants, police also located an additional amount of marijuana. The Canton Police Department also filed for forfeiture on a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu belonging to Weller.

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Congressional opponents to focus on veterans' affairs

The upcoming election between Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and her Republican opponent Bobby Schilling, of Colona, has national implications after the two duked it out two years ago.

Bustos, of East Moline, ousted Schilling in the 2012 election in a tight battle that set the stage for an even bigger sequel this year.

The race already has received national attention with newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stepping in to support Schilling. The new leader will appear with Schilling at an event with the candidate in Peoria later this month.

For now, the troops are quiet on both sides, but it appears the Schilling’s campaign will look to veterans’ affairs as a potential hill upon which to defeat Bustos.

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