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Shooting suspect says he was threatened by victim


The man accused of shooting another man in Janesville on Wednesday told police he feared for his life because the other man had been threatening and harassing him, according to a criminal complaint filed in Rock County Court on Friday.

Dominick K. Verdina, 22, of 1515 Holiday Drive, No. 7, Janesville, was charged Friday with attempted second-degree intentional homicide.

The charge can be filed against someone who unreasonably believed using deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm, according to state statutes.

Verdina told police he was in his car in the parking lot where he lives, getting ready to pick up his daughter from school, when Anthony C. Hibbler approached and used vulgar language, saying he belonged to a gang and that “I’ll (expletive) kill you,” according to the complaint.

A witness told police he heard Hibbler yell, “You’re not supposed to be here,” along with obscenities toward the man in the car.

Hibbler, 32, also of Janesville, tried to open a passenger door, but it was locked, so he walked away but then pulled out his phone and began taunting Verdina, Verdina told police.

The witness saw Hibbler point his phone toward the car, heard gunshots, saw smoke and then saw Verdina get out of the car, continuing to shoot at Hibbler, and standing over Hibbler with the gun pointed at Hibbler’s head, according to the complaint.

Hibbler had harassed Verdina in four incidents over the past 18 months and confused Verdina with Verdina’s brother, Verdina said.

Verdina said his brother had been at a party where marijuana was stolen, which resulted in Hibbler’s “people” being beaten, Verdina said, according to the complaint.

Verdina said Hibbler followed Verdina and his girlfriend and took videos of them and posted them on Facebook.

Verdina said he saw Hibbler carrying a handgun during one of the incidents, according to the complaint.

Hibbler “continuously taunts me … It’s to the point where I’m fed up,” Verdina is quoted as saying.

The complaint describes five possible bullet wounds—two through either leg, one to the back that punctured a lung and exited through the chest and one to the right middle finger.

Police have said the first shot, through the car’s windshield, hit the cellphone and Hibbler’s hand.

Hibbler was bleeding heavily while in the ambulance at the scene, according to the complaint.

Verdina told police he remembered only firing twice from the car and closing his eyes as he pulled the trigger. He said he must have blacked out after that, something he said had happened to him before, according to the complaint.

Verdina drove from the scene, but his girlfriend was on the phone with him after the shooting. A police officer talked to Verdina, urging him to pull over and allow police to contact him, which he did, according to the complaint.

Verdina was arrested a short distance away from the shooting scene.

“I know when I did it I messed up,” the complaint quotes Verdina telling police. “My life flashed before my eyes. ... I didn’t try to kill him, though. I just wanted him to leave me alone.”

In court Friday, Assistant District Attorney Richard Sullivan said as Verdina was standing over Hibbler, a passerby convinced him to put the gun away and leave.

Sullivan said Verdina has a minimal criminal record and has a concealed-carry permit.

Verdina was held on a $10,000 cash bond after his initial court appearance. His next court appearance is Friday.

New 'polio-like' disease worries Whitewater polio survivor


J.P. Fisher can’t squeeze a stapler with his right hand, a lingering effect of contracting polio when he was 2 years old.

The 81-year-old Whitewater resident has little muscle development in his right arm.

Despite the disease and its weakening effects, Fisher went on to be an All-American basketball and baseball player for UW-Whitewater and has been inducted into the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Hall of Fame, UW-Whitewater Atheltics Hall of Fame and Elkhorn High School’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

But the disease that killed thousands of people in the first half of the 20th century affected Fisher throughout his life, even after he was cured.

Decades later, Fisher is concerned about a disease some describe as “polio-like” that has become more common in recent years.

Acute flaccid myelitis is a rare condition. The chance of getting it is less than one in a million people, and since 2014 there have been 386 confirmed cases, the Associated Press has reported.

The condition affects a person’s nervous system and can cause weakness in the limbs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cause of the disease has not been confirmed, but it is believed to be linked to viruses that attack the spinal cord, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Like polio, the disease can cause weakness or dysfunction in limbs and typically effects children.

Local health officials say they have not seen acute flaccid myelitis in the area but are keeping eyes out for it, as they do with other emerging diseases.

Fisher said one of his only regrets is not properly thanking his parents for helping him when he had polio, he said.

His parents rubbed his limbs every day to improve blood flow, which Fisher believes prevented him from becoming paralyzed.

Fisher said bringing awareness to diseases and prevention can help parents save their children’s lives.

Life after polio

Polio caused Fisher to use a wheelchair for some time before progressing to crutches and then braces on his legs and back, he said.

Doctors told his parents he would never use his arms and legs again, Fisher said.

Fisher didn’t grow at a normal pace until he was a senior in high school. He had no strength in his right arm and was mediocre on his Whitewater High School basketball and baseball teams, he said.

But after taking a few years to work after high school, Fisher returned to UW-Whitewater and lettered for four years in basketball and baseball and was the all-time leading scorer on the basketball team, he said.

While he garnered athletic accolades, he still felt repercussions of polio. His right arm was visibly smaller than most, and members of opposing teams would taunt him, he said.

Fisher still is weak in his right arm and has back problems he thinks comes from polio.

Preventing an outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 62 cases of acute flaccid myelitis across 22 states this year as of October. Two of those cases were reported in Wisconsin.

Brenda Klahn, infection preventionist at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Janesville, said the hospital staff always is looking for emerging pathogens and communicable diseases.

She has not seen any cases of acute flaccid myelitis locally, Klahn said.

Disease outbreaks can be prevented by building herd immunity through vaccinations for preventable diseases, Klahn said.

In recent years, diseases such as mumps and measles have trickled back into the mainstream as more people choose not to vaccinate children, Klahn said.

Rock County historically has had low numbers of childhood vaccinations because of people who oppose them and people who are uninsured and don’t have access to affordable health care, Klahn said.

Vaccinations will not help all people, such as the very young and those whose immune systems are compromised. Vaccinating children who can be vaccinated will prevent diseases from coming back and spreading, Klahn said.

The idea that vaccines cause autism is false and has been debunked by the medical community, Klahn said. Traces of mercury have greatly been reduced in vaccines to the point where mercury is nearly non-existent, she said.

Younger people don’t remember diseases such as polio and rubella because they have been eradicated in many parts of the world by vaccines, Klahn said.

As Fisher sat on his couch Thursday talking to a reporter about the challenges in his childhood, he said he hoped nobody would forget what he and others went through because of polio.

Obituaries and death notices for Nov. 3, 2018

Morris Patrick Gallagher

George E. Kuehne

Robert Maryott

Agustina “Lala” Rendon

Kenneth M. Schaid

Anthony Wahl 

Edgerton’s Jordan Lietz pressures Lakeside Lutheran quarterback Jack Monis during their Division 4 state quarterfinal football game in Lake Mills on Friday, Nov. 2.

Evers promises on tax increases; Warren rallies for Baldwin


Democrat Tony Evers, who has said he would consider raising the gas tax if elected governor of Wisconsin and has campaigned on ending a tax break primarily benefiting manufacturers, told a newspaper that he’s not planning to raise any taxes.

Evers, the state schools superintendent, is challenging Gov. Scott Walker, with the most recent poll showing the race tied. Walker has vowed not to raise taxes. Evers has been open to a variety of tax hikes while vowing to cut income taxes for the middle class by 10 percent.

Evers planned to pay for that tax cut with $300 million gained by eliminating the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit program, a move Walker has cast as a tax increase on beneficiaries of the program.

But in a Washington Post story published Thursday, Evers said, “I’m planning to raise no taxes.”

Evers spokesman Sam Lau offered little clarity Friday on the contradiction. Lau said Evers was referring only to his plan for the middle-class tax cut.

“Those details have not changed,” Lau said.

Evers also has repeatedly said “everything is on the table” when considering how to spend more on roads, including a gas tax increase. Evers has not released a plan, saying he wants to talk with interested parties after the election.

Lau did not respond to questions about whether Evers was now taking a different position on his previously announced tax plans.

Walker has said Evers wasn’t releasing details about his proposals because he intends to raise a host of taxes. Evers has called that a lie.

Walker kept up the attack on Twitter Friday.

“Tony Evers will raise taxes,” Walker tweeted. “Tony’s taxes will cost us jobs. Tony’s taxes are a recipe for returning to a recession. We can’t afford to turn back now!”

In the race for U.S. Senate, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin held a “Women for Tammy” rally in the liberal stronghold of Madison with California Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a likely 2020 presidential candidate. They then headed to Milwaukee for another get-out-the-vote event at a union hall. Baldwin’s Republican opponent, state Sen. Leah Vukmir, was campaigning across the state, ending with a rally in La Crosse with Walker.

Warren, speaking to about 300 supporters in Madison, said Republican control of the White House, U.S. Senate, House and governor’s office was coming to an end.

“All I have to say is tick tock. Tick tock,” Warren said. “Four days, four days! Are you ready to get out there?”

Both Warren and Baldwin emphasized Democratic support of the Affordable Care Act, which Vukmir, Walker and Republicans have opposed for years and worked to repeal.

“They’re going to try it again,” Baldwin said. “Health care is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Our environment is on the ballot. Our ‘Dreamers’ are on the ballot. Net neutrality is on the ballot. Yes, there’s going to be names on the ballot, but those issues are at stake, all of them.”

Vukmir’s campaign manager, Jess Ward, issued a statement in reaction to the Warren visit where she referred to her as “Pocahontas,” the nickname President Donald Trump his given to Warren. Ward refers to Baldwin as “Tomah Tammy,” a nickname Vukmir has given to Baldwin in relation to her handling of the over-prescription of painkillers at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“After Tomah Tammy looked the other way and let our veterans down at Tomah, she has now decided to campaign with Senator ‘Pocahontas’ Warren who falsely claimed to be a Native American, so she could have preferential employment opportunities,” Ward said. “Leah is a nurse and military mom who has played by the rules, but Tomah Tammy and ‘Pocahontas’ Warren have despicably spent their lives taking advantage our veterans and minorities to advance their careers.”

Warren in October released DNA test results that provide some evidence of a Native American in her lineage. The test has done little to quell criticism of her by Trump and his supporters.

Polls have consistently shown Baldwin with a double-digit lead over Baldwin. A Marquette University Law School poll on Wednesday showed Walker and Evers as dead even.

Early voting broke the record for midterm elections on Wednesday and by Friday it had reached 468,525 people, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The previous record was 374,000 in 2014.

Tony Evers

Scott Walker