Federal trial postponed in Illinois needles-in-meat case

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — A southwestern Illinois man’s federal trial on charges he inserted sewing needles into packaged supermarket meats is postponed indefinitely until his mental competency can be tested. U.S. District Judge David Herndon canceled the Feb. 9 trial date for 68-year-old Ronald Avers at the request of the Belleville man’s public defender, Ethan Skaggs, and ordered that Avers’ mental fitness be evaluated. Skaggs says in court filings that during recent jail visits Avers spoke of events that never happened and has shown irrational behavior. Avers has pleaded not guilty and is jailed without bond on seven felony product-tampering counts. Authorities allege Avers slipped the needles into packaged meat items at a Shop ‘n Save in Belleville from May through July 2013.