Noon Newscast 5.8.19

May 8, 2019

Credit Iowa Public Radio

A judge is considering his verdict regarding a 19-year-old Sioux City resident accused of stabbing to death his ex-girlfriend and another man.

Testimony ended this week in the nonjury trial of Tran Walker. He's accused of killing 17-year-old Paiten Sullivan and 18-year-old Felipe Negron Jr. Police say Walker was in a car with the other two in January of last year when he stabbed Sullivan and then Negron when he tried to intervene.

Walker has pleaded not guilty to the two counts of first-degree murder.

Judge Tod Deck told the courtroom that he didn't know when he'd reach a verdict.

The mother of murder victim Mollie Tibbetts is asking the public to donate to a fundraiser in her daughter’s memory. 

Tibbetts, a native of Brooklyn, Iowa was going to the University of Iowa when she vanished while out jogging.  She would have turned 21-years-old today.

In an interview with a Des Moines Television station, her mother says she hopes people will donate $21 to “Mollie’s Movement”.  

The fundraiser is set up to benefit the psychiatric unit at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

The man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts, Cristhian Rivera has been charged with first-degree murder in Tibbetts' death. 

Rivera is schedule to go to trial here in Sioux City in September.

Woodbury County is planning to make a change in mental health services this summer.  

The Board of Supervisors say the move to the Rolling Hills Region from the Sioux Rivers Mental Health Region that includes Plymouth and Sioux Counties on July 1st.  The Rolling Hills Region includes several smaller counties east and southeast of Woodbury County.  

The Iowa Appeal Board is expected to vote today to approve a lawsuit settlement against Iowa State University.

A former employee sued the school after being denied healthcare benefits for sex-reassignment surgery.  

The university settled with the former employee for $27,500.

Iowa passed a new law banning Medicaid money for the surgical procedure.

U.S. government attorneys say the Trump administration plans to finish a new environmental review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada even if a federal appeals court throws out a lawsuit that blocked the project.

President Donald Trump issued a new permit for the $8 billion pipeline last month.

In court filings, government attorneys said it is "undisputed" that Trump's permit is not subject to two major environmental laws — the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act.

The attorneys do say the State Department will complete an environmental study ordered by a federal judge in Montana in November.

The long-delayed line would carry up to 830,000 barrels or 35 million gallons of crude daily from Canada to Nebraska.

If you haven’t filed an appeal on your property assessment in Sioux City you still have time.  The deadline was pushed back until June 5 because Woodbury County was declared a Federal Disaster Area after flooding back in March.

The city assessor’s office says about 200 people are still contesting their increases. More than 800 people contacted the city and adjustments were made on about 400 properties during an informal appeal process last month.

“We have adjusted anywhere from as small as 200 dollars up to one hundred to two hundred thousand on a larger commercial property.”

That’s Sioux City City Assessor John Lawson.  You can hear more from him and a couple of property owners during a special report on tax assessments today at noon during “The Exchange” with Mary Hartnett.