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Morning headlines: February 13, 2012

A snowflake.
A snowflake.

Snow to fall on St. Louis region today

A winter weather advisory is in effect until midnight. The National Weather Servicesays the winter storm will bring snow into Central Missouri this morning and will spread eastward across the St. Louis area during the day and continue into tonight.

The heaviest snowfall will happen during the late afternoon and evening hours and bring totals of 2-to-4 inches. The snow is expected to come to an end late tonight and may mix with light freezing drizzle.

Experts: Mo. exported a record amount of goods in 2011

The World Trade Center of St. Louis and the World Economic Institute for Strategic Research say businesses in the state sold about $14.1 billion worth of products to other countries in 2011. That is the most in four years.

The groups say growth in Chinese purchases was the main factor in Missouri's record total. Chinese purchases increased by about 18 percent because of orders for copper, lead and aluminum, plus parts for fans and semiconductors.

China ranked third among Missouri's international customers behind Canada and Mexico.

Crime victims fight for greater standing in Ill. court system

The Illinois House has approved a measure that would give crime victims the ability to file court motions  if they feel their rights are violated.

Crime victims and their family members want to be notified whenever an attacker's prison sentence could be reduced. They want their safety to be a mandatory consideration when a judge decides bail, or conviction terms. And they want to speak during those proceedings.

Gail Rice has been involved with the victims' rights movement since the murder of her brother, a Denver police officer. She says she was treated with dignity throughout the high-profile judicial proceedings against her brother's killer. But, she says that's not always the case, citing the example of an Illinois mother whose son was murdered. Rice says court hearings were held in a tiny room.

"So her family and the defendant's family had to sit right next to each other," said Rice. "And they were constantly harassed and intimidated. And there was nothing they could do. They couldn't get action to have it switched. Some victims have not been able to give victim impact statements."

The measure approved by the Illinois House would mean changing the state constitution.

Critics say the plan throws off a delicate, judicial balance by making it harder for a defendant to get a fair trial.