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Suspect in murder-for-hire appears in court

Carbondale Times

One of the three Kansas men accused of traveling to Jackson County to commit capital murder late last month made his first appearance in court Monday.

Alex B. Karcher, 22, of Salina, Kan., appeared with attorney Trevor Riddle Monday morning in Saline County, Kan., according to the Salina Journal.

Karcher, along with fellow Kansans Xavier E. Lewis and Xavier L. McCray, was accused last week of traveling to Carbondale as part of a murder-for-hire plot to kill three local residents, Darien Williams-Wright, Judious Kizeart and Robert Harris.

Although the charges against the three Kansans make no specific mention of it, Carbondale Police say the alleged plot is associated with the July 31 shooting of Carbondale Police Officer Trey Harris, who was responding to sounds of gunfire just before he was shot in the face through the windshield of his patrol car. Harris is now recovering at home.

The other two men accused in the murder-for-hire plot required additional time during which to hire attorneys, the Salina Journal reports. They are due to return to court Aug. 29.

Their alleged crime reportedly took place between July 27 and Aug. 1, and the three intended victims are now named among the state’s witnesses. If convicted, each suspect face between nine and 41 years in prison.

According to a press release from Carbondale Police last week, a reward of $15,000 remains in place “for information which leads to the identity, arrest and conviction” of anyone involved in the shooting of Officer Harris.

Multimodal center project misses out on grant

Geoffrey Ritter
Carbondale Times

Carbondale’s much-publicized plan to build a multimodal transportation center to replace the current Amtrak station is now on hold.

Mayor Mike Henry said Thursday that the city failed to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER funding program that would have pumped $14.64 million into the project.

The grant application, submitted in April, was the culmination of a three-year planning process that included several local and regional transit services, including Amtrak and Greyhound.

“It’s bad news for downtown revitalization,” Henry said. “We thought we had a good shot at it.”

The planned station would serve as a transportation hub, providing accommodations for trains, busses, taxis and even bicycles. It also would include ground-level retail space and conference areas.

City Manager Gary Williams said that despite the setback, the city still has options for moving the project forward. He said funding still might come from the Illinois Department of Transportation, which has been supportive of the project, as well as possibly the Federal Transit Authority’s grant programs.

Williams said getting funding from those sources will require help from state and federal legislators, and the city will pursue such options in the coming year. In the meantime, he said the city will apply for the TIGER grant program again next year.

“Although this is a disappointment, this was our first TIGER application and most of the awardees had applied before,” Williams said. “Assuming the program is renewed, we will definitely apply again next year.”