The following stories are among today’s top news of central Illinois.

Man gets 58 years for killing toddler

PEORIA — For beating a 17-month-old boy and causing his death, a Peoria Heights man was sentenced to 58 years in prison on Tuesday.

Joshua A. Rutledge, 36, showed no emotion when Peoria County Judge Katherine Gorman handed down the sentence, which is two years shy of the maximum.

According to court records, Peoria Heights police responded to Rutledge’s house on Oct. 16, 2017, after a 911 call regarding an infant who had fallen off the bed. While they headed to the home, the dispatcher informed them the baby wasn’t breathing, according to police reports. When police arrived, Rutledge told them the child had fallen and hit his head on a plastic truck, according to police reports. Rutledge told them that after the boy, who wasn’t his but his girlfriend’s, fell, he gave him a bath. That’s when the child “got real stiff and he noticed that (the boy) wasn’t breathing.”

Rutledge told police that he called 911 and began CPR. Police noted in their report that there was no damage to the truck. Police officers took over the CPR until the boy was taken to the hospital by paramedics, who noticed blood on the left side of his head.

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New trial for ex-cop convicted of having child porn

PEORIA — A former Peoria police officer, convicted of possessing child porn three years ago, should get a new trial, a split panel of appellate court judges ordered Tuesday.

By a 2-1 margin, the judges from the 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa felt John McCavitt’s rights were violated when a Peoria detective searched a forensic copy of his personal computer after his trial for sexual assault had ended with an acquittal. Judges Tom Lytton and Mary McDade held the end of the sexual assault trial meant any evidence taken for that purpose was out of bounds for further review. But in a dissent, Judge Vicki Wright countered the detective was reviewing the mirrored hard drive and when he found images of child pornography, he stopped his review and got a new search warrant. That, she wrote, meant he acted in good faith. But the majority felt otherwise.

The issue is that McCavitt was initially arrested on charges of sexual assault that prosecutors alleged occurred in 2013, but he was acquitted in 2014 after a jury trial. Police had seized his personal computer, which they said had evidence of the assaults. After the verdict, the computer was re-examined, and the illicit images were allegedly found by the detective during a departmental internal investigation. Only a few images were found intact. Most were in fragments and pieces because of the program that McCavitt had used to delete them.

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Driver blames strippers after drugs found in car

WEST PEORIA — As a police dog indicated the presence of narcotics during a traffic stop, the driver blamed strippers whom he often gives rides to work.

A Peoria County sheriff’s deputy pulled over a vehicle with an expired registration at 3:30 a.m. Nov. 9 in the 2100 block of West Farmington Road. The deputy summoned a K-9 officer to bring his dog for a sniff of the vehicle, according to a sheriff’s report. First, the K-9 officer asked the driver if there were any illegal narcotics inside the vehicle. The driver said no. Then the police dog sniffed around the vehicle. The dog indicated a “positive alert” to the “odor of narcotics” at the driver’s door, the report stated. A search of the vehicle turned up nothing. The driver consented to a search of his person, and again nothing was found.

The officer asked the driver if there had been narcotics inside the car recently. He “stated that he manages a gentleman’s club and he often has to give dancers rides to and from work,” the K-9 officer wrote in the report. “I asked him if he knows if any of the dancers that he gives rides to use narcotics, and he replied, ‘Probably all of them.’” The driver also said the vehicle belongs to his wife. He said he was “not sure what all she is into, as they do their own thing,” the report stated. He was allowed to leave with a warning.

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