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News from around Wisconsin (9:46 p.m. 11/13/09)

DNA helps overturn Wis. man’s sex-assault sentence

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Dade County judge on Friday overturned the conviction of a man who served more than six years in prison for a sexual assault that new DNA evidence indicates he did not commit.

Judge Patrick Fiedler ordered the release of 45-year-old Forest S. Shomberg, citing new DNA evidence and fresh research on faulty eyewitness identification.

Shomberg’s girlfriend, April Anello, cried as Fiedler announced his decision.

“I honestly didn’t think they’d be able to pull it off,” said Anello, who was with Shomberg the night of the 2002 attack. “This has been going on so long — 6½ years.”

Shomberg had been convicted of second-degree sexual assault and sentenced to 12 years. He always maintained his innocence.

The victim was a University of Wisconsin-Madison freshman who was grabbed from behind about 3 a.m. and forced into a dark alleyway, where the attacker groped her through her pantyhose.

Security guard Alan Ferguson arrived after hearing the victim scream. He and the woman told police it was dark and they caught only a fleeting glance of the man’s face. But Ferguson later testified he got a second look at the suspect, even though he never mentioned that in his report to police or in his detailed handwritten account compiled right after the incident.

Small Wisconsin town mourns Fort Hood victim

KIEL, Wis. (AP) — American flags hanging from downtown streetlights waved in a brisk fall wind Friday as a small Wisconsin town remembered a soldier killed in the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, as a caring professional and beautiful friend.

Hundreds packed into the Kiel High School gymnasium for a visitation for Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger, many sobbing and wiping their tears as they filed past her flag-draped casket.

Friends recalled how Krueger, 29, signed up for the U.S. Army Reserves after the 2001 terrorist attacks and told her mother to “watch me” take on Osama Bin Laden. She was killed at Fort Hood as she prepared to deploy to Afghanistan for a second time.

“I’m a true believer that she will see Osama in, in the end,” Geneva Isely, 57, said as she left the visitation.

“We know what happened, but we don’t know why it happened,” Isely added. “To give her all the way she did — and on United States soil. Just unbelievable.”

Krueger was remembered as a mental health specialist who wanted to help fellow soldiers cope with combat stress and who had a bright career in social work ahead of her; an athlete who loved playing sports and shooting pool; a partier who sang karaoke and belted out songs by rapper Eminem.

“Her smile would light up any room, her energy would envelope all of those around her,” her parents, Jeri and David Krueger, said in a statement. “It is that smile and that energy that keeps us going throughout this difficult time.”

Ex-distributor sentenced for defrauding NY Times

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — In 2006, about 500 people in La Crosse subscribed to the New York Times.

By March 2008, the paper’s records showed 21,000 subscribers — close to half the western Wisconsin city’s population. But it wasn’t a promotion drive or hunger for news that led to the boom. In fact, it wasn’t a real boom at all.

Federal prosecutors say a former New York Times distributor named Martin T. Holtet created fake subscribers through the newspaper’s online registration service, had a recycling company haul away the papers when they arrived and went on collecting his fees — costing the newspaper company $334,000.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb sentenced Holtet on Friday to 18 months in prison and ordered him to repay the money when he got out.

“It was stupid if you ever thought this would be a successful fraud scheme,” Crabb said.

According to court documents, Holtet, 51, picked up copies of the paper from area printers and distributed them to newsstands, local colleges and individual subscribers around La Crosse, a city of 50,000 people. He was paid for every paper he delivered.

In early 2007, Holtet accessed a company Web site that allowed people to sign up as subscribers and created fake addresses and identities.

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