It's back to work today for a Bucks County jury after a second day of deliberations Thursday failed to result in a verdict in the murder case of Sean Kratz, who is accused of shooting a man in the head and being involved in two other murders at a Solebury Township farm. Thursday, the jury asked the judge to see the timeline again and to re-watch Kratz's confession tape. Kratz faces first and second degree murder charges, as well as conspiracy to kill, robbery and abuse of a corpse.
Cases of whooping cough have been reported in four schools in the East Penn School District. Students who attend Emmaus High School, Lower Macungie Middle School, Shoemaker and Wescosville Elementary Schools have been diagnosed with Pertussis, or whooping cough. The students are now under the care of a doctor according to the district. In a letter sent home to parents, it's said if a child is coughing frequently or experiencing coughing fits, parents should promptly contact the child's doctor.
Salisbury Township might increase property taxes next year. At their Thursday night meeting, Salisbury Township's Board of Commissioners tentatively agreed to a hike of point-14 mills, meaning an increase of $31 on a home assessed at $225,000. Township officials say the increase is needed to balance revenues and expenses next year. The tax will take effect if the 2020 budget is adopted on December 19th.
A district magistrate in Monroe County is now suspended. A state Court of Judicial Discipline handed down a punishment for Judge Michael Muth following reports he looked at pornography on his office computer. Muth has been suspended for 45 days, placed on probation and must pay a $5000 fine. He is also accused of using court copiers for personal use and having clerks grade the exams of his East Stroudsburg University students.
Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to discuss his charter school reform package today. Wolf is expected to say the current 22-year-old law is outdated and is failing students, teachers and taxpayers. Wolf is meeting with the state's association of school administrators to discuss the package today.
State lawmakers are moving toward making flavored e-cigarettes and menthol-flavored cigarettes illegal. Both Senate and Assembly committees approved measures Thursday that could remove such products from the marketplace. Menthol cigarettes have received specific scrutiny because they are allegedly easier to smoke because the flavor is less irritating to inhale. Gov. Phil Murphy has been a vocal opponent of vaping.
A New Jersey state commission is recommending that mandatory minimum sentences be eliminated for non-violent drug and property crimes. Gov. Phil Murphy says the mandatory minimum sentences are a holdover from the 80's war on drugs and calls them harsh and misguided. "They haven't served the cause of justice. They have devastated the lives of too many individuals and families, mostly people of color, and it is past time that they are retired," Murphy says. The commission also suggests allowing judges to take an offender's age into consideration and an expansion of the "compassionate release" program for older and sick inmates.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are trying to avoid overlooking their matchup with Indiana Saturday before a pivotal game against Ohio State next week. Penn State's loss in Minnesota dropped them to number nine in the College Football Playoff rankings this week. For Penn State to have a chance to climb back into consideration, a road win next week against the number two Buckeyes is a must. Penn State hosts the 7-2 Hoosiers tomorrow at noon on WAEB.