Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trial Begins For Woman Accused Of Killing Her Mother

Testimony began Tuesday in the case of a woman accused of stabbing her mother to death and lighting the body on fire in Madison. Kim McLaughlin faces murder and arson charges in the death of her mother, Shirley Robuck, 73. Prosecutors told the jury Tuesday that Robuck was stabbed repeatedly and her body set on fire. Robuck was found dead in September of 2009 at her home. A neighbor testified she saw McLaughlin coming out of the woods near the home covered in blood. McLaughlin has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Monday, during jury selection, Madison County Circuit Judge Ruth Ann Hall issued a warning to McLaughlin. After an incident last week when McLaughlin reportedly stood up and tried talking to a witness, Judge Hall told the defendant if she tries to speak to anyone in the courtroom during this trial besides her defense team, she will be put into a shock belt by court security. Tuesday the judge reminded the defense team after the defendant allegedly made some gestures towards the jury during testimony. The defense team says McLaughlin, 51, is mentally unfit to stand trial. McLaughlin’s defense team has previously argued their client did not understand the court proceedings due to mental defect. However, after expert testimony, the judge ruled McLaughlin was in fact competent to stand trial. The judge has also ordered both sides not to discuss possible outcomes for sentencing during the trial with the jury. The trial will continue Wednesday at the Madison County Courthouse

Monday, April 2, 2012

2nd Day on the Job, Already LIVE

Monday was  my second day on the job at whnt news 19 and already going LIVE with the top story at 5:00   We will be following this murder trial throughout the week. www.whnt.com

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Facebook Official"

I now have an official news personality Facebook page up and running! Please LIKE it to keep posted on what is going on in the news here in northern Alabama and around the country. Thanks for all the support thus far. My first day on the job at WHNT News 19 went great lots of Lottery madness to cover! Stay Tuned for stories coming soon...

Click Here For Matt KroschelWHNT Facebook Page


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

I made it to Huntsville, Alabama! I'm all moved in to my new place, now relaxing before I start work tomorrow at WHNT TV.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Farewell Grand Junction Thanks For The Memories

Tonight was my last broadcast on the air with NewsChannel 5 in Grand Junction. I get to work in Huntsville, Alabama with WHNT News 19 starting next month! Continue to follow this blog to get news you can use and stories about people who have stories that need to be told. I will continue to work hard everyday as I move onto a new challenge and adventure in the south. Stay Tuned! --Matt Kroschel

My new station:

Monday, March 12, 2012

BLM holds public open house about oil shale

I am in Silt, Colorado where the bureau of land management is holding a public open house to discuss the possibilities of future development of oil shale in the west. www.krextv.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Frank Birgfeld Speaks After Human Remains Tentatively Identified as Paige Birgfeld

By Matt Kroschel
Grand Junction-- In his own words, the father of missing woman Paige Birgfeld, Frank Birgfeld, speaks with NewsChannel 5 in a live interview just a few hours after human remains found in the Wells Gulch area were tentatively identified as Paige by the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

Delta County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance in recovering the skeletal remains from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Delta County Coroner’s Office, the Mesa County Coroner’s Office, and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

Forensic odontology has been used to tentatively identify the remains as belonging to Paige Birgfeld of Grand Junction. A DNA comparison will be requested through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to confirm these results. The remains may be forwarded to a forensic anthropologist in an attempt to identify any evidence of trauma.
Other personal items were found along with the remains and will be considered for DNA testing based on past successes with trace evidence.


Paige Birgfeld was reported missing in a 2007 Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Investigation that has since been classified as a homicide.
The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office continues to be informed of developments in this case as they occur.

Investigators are continuing to search the Wells Gulch area for any clues that would show how the body arrived in the area or any clues as to how Paige was killed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fire Department Will Not Rely On "Luck" Any Longer

White Hall Task Force Releases Action Report

by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction, CO-- Months after the White Hall fire, a task force assembled to access how the fire was handled releases their report and their findings highlight some serious concerns within the Grand Junction Fire Department.

In the 35 page report concerns over communication breakdowns, training inadequacies and a lack of resources available to cover other emergencies during the fire were addressed. During that raging inferno inside the landmark building in downtown Grand Junction, a firefighter fell through the floor of the building while fighting it. Fire Chief Ken Watkins said his department, "got lucky" and vows to make sure their responses to large commercial structure fires are handled differently in the future by changing their policy.

"We wanted to put this out in the lights and let the public know what we need to work on and what we are doing well," Watkins said.

The report highlights the dispatch communication center's lack of knowledge on fire fighting operations, as well as protocols for "Mayday" situations (when a firefighter is down). Also, the report indicates dispatchers do not typically monitor tactical channels during emergency operations.

"A lot of these are cheap fixes and are already in the process of being made," Watkins added.

There were also several positive findings in the report that Chief Watkins said shows just how dedicated and professional his department is at the job they do everyday.

"I am very proud of my team, we just have a couple of things we need to focus on fixing so we can provide the best service to the community and keep our firefighters safer."

The report indicates a lack of resources and difficulties responding to incidents in the Grand valley due to geographical issues.

Chief Watkins told NewsChannel Five every finding and recommendation is being looked at and being seriously addressed.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Police Volunteer Racks Up 1,000's of Hours Keeping Community Safe

NewsChannel Five February "People You Can Count On" Recipient

by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction, CO-- Grand Junction Police Department has a secret weapon in their mission to keep the community safe, it is Bill Price.

After over 20 years volunteering his time in the evidence room and in the volunteer police patrols around town, the man who has retired twice, served in the US Navy, and worked as a court reporter has no plans on slowing down.

NewsChannel Five is proud to honor Price for his years of service and dedication with the police department as February's People You Can Count On recipient.

You can nominate someone you know who is making a difference in the community by filling out the online nomination form at www.krextv.com

Monday, February 27, 2012

Local Dealerships Install GPS Tracking Inside Your Newly Purchased Car

                   Privacy Concerns Force One Woman To Speak Out

by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction - We have all heard about GPS tracking in our phones, but now, hidden tracking units in some vehicles we purchase give dealers the ability to track your every move in real time from their computers. Over the last few years, "buy here, pay here" lots worried about high risk loans they make on vehicles they sell at across the county have began the installing tracking units. The growing industry-wide trend leaves some customers with privacy concerns.

“I think it is creepy. They already know where I live. Now, they know where I am all the time. It is weird,” Clifton resident Dominicque Barker told NewsChannel 5 Tuesday afternoon. Barker purchased a used Cadillac Escalade, a vehicle that fits into a high-risk category according to industry insiders.

We can confirm that most companies that sell new and used cars and also offer financing here in the Grand Valley use some form of GPS tracking on at least some of the cars they sell. Because of privacy concerns, the companies we asked to go on camera for this story refused to be interviewed, but they did provide us with information about the type of tracking systems they use and what capabilities they have.

NewsChannel 5 has learned companies like Rocky Mountain Tracking, a Fort Collins based GPS provider, offer the units for under a $200 investment to start. Customers can also purchase upgrades that give the ability to shut down a vehicle remotely and have car alarms engaged.

The tracking units are legal in the state of Colorado and before they are installed in vehicles the owners have to sign a waiver acknowledging the devices are installed.

“I was basically told I either had to sign and have the GPS installed or else I could not get the loan for my car,” Barker said.

One dealership manager told NewsChannel 5 that as long as people pay their loans on time, they should not even know the device is on their car and their staff only uses the system when someone becomes delinquent in their payments.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Local Choir Controversy Gains National Attention

by KREX News Room
by Jordan Sherman

Denver - A story that has sparked heated debate locally over the past few days receives national attention on FOX and Friends, the early show for the FOX network. NewsChannel 5 reporter Matt Kroschel broke the story Tuesday about a Grand Junction High School student who quit choir after his teacher included a song that praised the Islamic god Allah.

On Thursday morning, FOX and Friends producers contacted Matt with an interview request for Friday morning. Matt agreed and set off for Denver shortly after 6:00 PM Thursday night.

Little did we know that on the way to Denver, the story would continue to unfold. Matt received a phone call from James Harper, the student at the center of the controversy, stating that he had received written threats. "Some kids at school sent messages. None of them were direct like, 'I will kick your ass', but one of them said you better not come back. The other said shut your mouth or I'll do something about it."

The threats against Harper only strengthened Matt's resolve to maintain balance in his coverage at the national level.

After a night of nerves and little sleep in Denver, we set out for KDVR FOX at 4:00 AM, and Matt began his live interview at 4:55 AM. The interview lasted around two minutes, but as Matt said, "I think the interview went well. I think we got across the facts of the story we had."

Friday, February 17, 2012

National attention for my exclusive story

I was on Fox and Friends this morning talking about a story I broke earlier this week about a student who quit a Grand Junction High School choir over an Islamic prayer song. More info at         www.krextv.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Religious Music In High School Choir Forces Student To Quit Singin

Islamic Prayer Song Being Sung By Grand Junction High School Choir


by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction-- A Grand Junction High School student wants a song picked for the after-school men's choir group pulled, because he says the Islamic piece is not appropriate for a public school choir.

The song is called 'Zikr' and its composer says is not intended for a worship ceremony.
or senior James Harper, a Christian who is active in his local church, the wording and meaning of the song is such that he feels it should not be performed by students in a public school setting.

“I don’t want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really don’t feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song,” Harper told NewsChannel Five.

Harper sent an email to District 51 officials expressing his concerns with the song. He also contacted the KREX newsroom.

District officials said while they understand not everyone will agree with or appreciate songs due to the religious nature of the pieces, they completely stand behind both the music teacher and the song.

“This is about bringing diversity to the students and showing them other things that are out there,” spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. “The teacher was open with the parents and students do not have to participate in this voluntary club choir.”

The upbeat, rhythmic song combines dancing with drums. School officials said the teacher, knowing that there may be some questions about the song, asked her students to watch a Youtube video of the song and passed out the English translation to students.

GJHS choir instructor Marcia Wieland’s professional work as a conductor and teacher spans a wide variety of ages including experiences with high school, collegiate, and adult choirs. Ms. Wieland holds a Bachelor of Music in Choral Music Education from Oakland University.

To watch the entire song CLICK HERE

Monday, February 13, 2012

HAZMAT Teams Prepare for Possible Grand Valley Disaster

By Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction - With thousands of tons of dangerous chemicals passing through the Grand Valley every year over the open road and on the rails, a specialized unit of firefighters is preparing for the worst case scenario.

At the Grand Junction Fire Department's station three, firefighters with specialized gear and training to deal with an assortment of hazardous materials are stationed and ready at a moment's notice to respond to a hazmat incident.

Regular training exercises keep the first responders up to speed with the latest hazardous materials and tactics they can use if they do have to respond to a hazmat incident.

The Mesa County emergency manager's office oversees the entire response operations for any emergency incident in the county, and that includes hazmat situations.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Grand Junction Man Survives fall From Cliff Thanks to Teen Rescuer

"Next thing I knew there was nothing below me. I was falling off the cliff."

By Matt Kroschel

Mesa County - December 26, 2011, started like any other day on the trail.

John Mallow will admit that by no means does he consider himself an expert mountain bike rider, but like many outdoor lovers in Colorado, he welcomes the challenge of a single track.

As he pedaled along Mary’s Loop that afternoon, one split-second choice changed his life forever.

“I thought I could go on the other path--it would shoot me across to the other ledge--but the next thing I knew, there was nothing below me, and I knew I was falling off the cliff,” Mallow recounted.

Alone, badly hurt, and shivering, he called out for help.

“The pain was immense. My entire body was aching, and I was getting cold,” Mallow said.

As the sunlight began to fade over the Western Slope, so did hope. The situation was looking grim, when all at once, out of silence, Mallow heard voices from the cliffs towering over his crumpled and broken body.

“We heard some moans coming from down below us and we looked down and saw a man in a weird position,” 17-year-old Central High School senior Shawn Votruba told NewsChannel 5. “I could tell he was in pretty bad shape, and my instincts just kind of took over,” Votruba said.

Call it luck or fate or maybe even a higher power stepping in, but Votruba happened to have taken emergency medical training courses through Western Colorado Community College weeks before.

For several hours, as Lower Valley Fire and rescue teams and Mesa County Search and Rescue crews hiked into the accident scene, Votruba stayed by Mallow’s side, giving him lifesaving medical care.

Mallow was flown to Saint Mary’s hours later, but doctors were still not sure he would make it through the night. He had broken several ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken shoulder bone, broken back, and a head wound.

The damage from that cold December day is far from being erased, but Mallow has made a remarkable recovery in a relatively short time.

As for this near-death experience, Mallow said his gratitude for Shawn and the other rescuers cannot be put in words.

Mallow broke down in tears during the course of recounting he accident and incredible luck that Shawn happened to be on the trail that day.

In the last month the word "hero" has been tossed several times in Shawn's direction. “I think I’m just a normal guy who had to do what needed to be done,” said Votruba.

Mallow will present Shawn an award during a presentation at Central High School. Shawn plans on graduating high school and joining the army as a medic.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January People You Can Count On Recipient Has One Big Heart

 by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction - They say home is where the heart is. If that is true, then Sue Edson is home everywhere in the Grand Valley. Edson founded ARVD Heart for Hope nonprofit to help raise awareness about heart disease in young people.

She has embarked in a project to get Automated External Defibrillators installed in all Mesa County schools. For her work to raise awareness and get the AEDs in local schools, she has been selected for our NewsChannel 5 People You Can Count On January winner.

Edson was nominated by people in the community by using the nomination form on homepage of www.krextv.com. She will receive a wonderful prize package from our friends at Sky Ute Casino Resort.

For more information about ARVD Heart for Hope, click here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Helicopter Flight School Is Counting on University Partnership

by Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction - The owners of a local flight school are hoping a partnership they say is in the works with Colorado Mesa University will be a win-win for students in the Grand Valley.

Suncrest Aviation has been operating the only helicopter flight school on the Western Slope from the Grand Junction Regional Airport since 2009. Now, owners are confirming they are close to reaching a deal with CMU to give helicopter certificates as part of a new aviation program that is allegedly going to be offered through the Western Colorado Community College branch of CMU.

“This will be huge for us, and will give our students a big advantage over other students in flight programs because they will also have a degree when the graduate,” flight school instructor Julia Thaxton told NewsChannel 5 Sunday from the cockpit of a training helicopter hovering over Grand Junction.

The flight school has another location in Utah, and right now at the Grand Junction school, has a class size of about six students.

“We are hoping this partnership will be good for us and bring in a lot more students, and good for the students who will be able to get a college degree along with the needed Federal Aviation Administration certification,” Thaxton added.

The flight school training includes five different certifications, including private pilot, instrument rating, commercial pilot, certified flight instructor (CFI ), and certified flight instructor instrument (CFII).

CMU media spokeswoman Dana Nunn said the school is working on an aviation program, but would not elaborate on if a deal is in the works with any specific company.

“Before any new degree can begin it first has to get approval from the board of trustees,” Nunn said.

For more information about the flight school, click here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rare Sport, Hawking Grows in Popularity

By Matt Kroschel
Fruita - The number of people hunting is on the decline across the country, but for one ancient hunting sport, the future looks bright. It is called hawking. In the sport, hunters use birds of prey like hawks and eagles to hunt down live prey.

It's a sport that takes patience and lots of dedication, but for select few that master it, the rewards can be life-long and very well worth the wait.

For more information about how you can get involved in the sport, click here.         

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ouray Ice Festival Draws Big Crowds

By Matt Kroschel

OURAY, CO -- The small mountain town of Ouray is home to some of the best ice climbing terrain in the world, and this weekend thousands of people are packing into the small mountain town in southwestern Colorado for the annual Ouray Ice Festival.         

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Western Slope Community Fighting Energy Development in Its Backyard

By Matt Kroschel

Paonia, CO - There was a shortage of chairs in the Paonia Junior High School gymnasium Wednesday evening as hundreds of residents packed inside to learn more about the possibility of their rural community turning into an oil and gas drilling hub. The Bureau of Land Management is considering leasing 30,000 acres to oil and natural gas development. The proposal surrounds towns in the North Fork Valley.

Two separate local environmental groups have teamed up to get information about the proposal in Delta County. Their work seems to be paying off. At several meetings, there have been hundreds of people showing up, signing petitions and writing letters to the BLM asking them to deny the lease proposal.

Under regulations, the oil and natural gas company who nominated the area does not have be identified, and the BLM has extended the public comment period until February 9th.

“This could spell disaster for my organic farm. I am not going to let this happen. Our water comes from these hills, and that is exactly where they want to develop,” organic farmer Michael McCarthy told NewsChannel 5 from his farm Wednesday.

For Paonia mayor Neal Schwiterman, the concerns over water do not stop with local farmers. “One of the parcels comes right up next to city limits. Two of our drinking water wells are inside the area. We are concerned,” Schwiterman said.

For more information about specific parcels, click here.

To email your comments directly to the BLM at co_ufo_leasing@blm.gov.

There will be another community meeting Thursday evening Crawford Town Hall.