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A federal court trial is scheduled to begin in Madison today for Kristen Smith. She's the woman accused of kidnapping her baby nephew near Beloit, and leaving him in a crate behind a gas station in Iowa in sub-zero temperatures. Prosecutors said Smith kidnapped five-day-old Kayden Powell in February and started driving to her home in Colorado. Officers arrested Smith the same day at an Interstate gas station at West Branch Iowa. The infant was not with Smith at the time -- but he was later found freezing behind another nearby gas station. Kayden survived despite being left in the cold for more than a full day. Smith is charged with one federal count of kidnapping. If convicted, she'll face up to life in prison with a mandatory minimum of 25 years.
The fall primary elections are two weeks from tomorrow -- and two candidates have switched parties to try and defeat Wausau House Republican Sean Duffy. Don Raihala got 15-percent of the primary vote in 2010, when he ran as a Democrat for the Seventh District House seat. He'll face Duffy in the G-O-P primary on August 12th. Mike Krsiean has run as both a Republican and Libertarian for the north central Wisconsin House seat. This time, he'll run as a Democrat to take on Ashland City Council member Kelly Westlund -- who's been endorsed by a number of groups including the Sierra Club and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Duffy is going for his third two-year term in the House. He replaced retiring Democrat Dave Obey almost four years ago.
Two bands of thunderstorms rumbled through Wisconsin yesterday, causing at least some damage. The Wisconsin Rapids area had up to tennis-ball-sized hail early in the day. A storage shed flipped over and some trees fell in Arpin, almost 15 miles northwest of Rapids. The second band of storms went through yesterday afternoon. Jackson in Washington County had winds close to 50-miles-an-hour, causing a large tree branch to fall at West Bend. Sheboygan had one-inch hail. Parts of far northeast Wisconsin had small hail. Some areas of Wisconsin had more than a half-inch of rain. After the storms cleared out, cooler air moved in from the north. Parts of northern Wisconsin dropped into the mid-40's as of four this morning. A dry and pleasant day is in store for most of the Badger State, with highs in the 70's under clear to partly cloudy skies.
A woman near Janesville may have been trapped for up to 20 minutes under a riding lawn mower before somebody saw and tried freeing her. The woman died from the weekend mishap, which occurred in the Rock County town of Janesville. Sheriff's officials said the 65-year-old woman was mowing near a small culvert when she drove too close to the incline, and the machine overturned onto her. After the witness tried freeing the woman, rescuers completed the job and took her to a Janesville hospital. She died there a short time later. The victim's name was not immediately released.