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September 30, 2007

Teens charged in shooting of 12-year-old girl

Two teens were charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault on Thursday, following a shooting in north Minneapolis on Saturday.

Tywin Marcell Bender, 17, and Semaj Magee, 16, jumped out of a black SUV with guns, as a party ended, according to the Star Tribune. Witnesses said that Magee fired first; Bender followed and fired about 20 rounds. They then fled in the vehicle, leaving 12-year-old Vernice Hall with a bullet wound to the head.

According to court papers, Bender is part of the Stick Up Boys gang. Members of a rival gang, Murder Squad, had attended the party.

The county attorney’s office is seeking to try the two as adults because of the charges and use of guns.

Hall was still in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center.

September 29, 2007

No new trial in murder of 11-year-old boy

On Friday, a judge ruled that new evidence in a trial of a murder of 17 years ago was insufficient to allow a new trial, reported the Pioneer Press.

A hearing earlier this month presented new evidence, including inmates’ testimony. A key testimony in the case was from an inmate who claimed that Paul Rice, Fort’s cousin, had confessed to shooting Potts. Hennepin County District Judge Jay Quam wrote that if Rice had been the legitimate killer, he would have confessed the correct method of how he committed the murder, according to the Pioneer Press.

Advanced testing on blood drops collected at Eugene Fort’s home was found to be Marcus Potts’, an 11-year-old who was stabbed at least 44 times. Originally, though traces of blood could be found in footprints in the snow that led to Fort’s apartment, there wasn’t enough for DNA technology to analyze.

Fort was convicted in May based on the blood tests and faulty alibis. Wrote the Star Tribune: “The conviction on two counts of first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence.? Fort’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 8.

Police believe that Fort had entered the Potts’ home in an attempt to burglarize it in when he found the boy, whom police say surprised Fort. Potts’ mother found the boy’s body when she returned from work.

Despite Quam’s decision, Fort can still appeal to the state Supreme Court, wrote the Pioneer Press.

September 23, 2007

Analysis: Man charged in rape of 12-year-old girl

A Minneapolis man, Harold T. Davis, who allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl in June, was charged Thursday with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to the Star Tribune.

The story referred to multiple public documents including Hennepin County court documents, Davis’s records, and Hennepin County jail records.

Based on Davis’s past records, found in the Hennepin County government center, the Star Tribune was correct that Davis has had a previous conviction for first-degree assault. That charge was filed in June of 1999. Davis has also been charged with possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle (April of 1999) and fleeing a peace officer by a means other than a motor vehicle (August of this year).

The ICR showed that the 12-year-old girl did tell the police that she had been raped, as the story said, but did not give much more information.

The Star Tribune also wrote that Davis’s bail was set at $150,000, which also checks out with the Register of Actions for this case.

Based on the information that I was able to find, the story did seem fair. It was difficult to get the actual case information, as the various departments sent me to other buildings that did not actually contain the file. I would have been able to tell if the story would need to be more comprehensive if I could have found the report, but the story was very accurate with the information that it printed from the public documents.

No found murder weapon in fatal stabbing

One month after the fatal stabbing of a local teen, Hastings police have been unable to find the murder weapon.

The weapon was a knife, used by murder suspect Allan Beckles, to stab 16-year-old Trent Griebling multiple times near Tilden Elementary School.

Police have searched Beckles’ home, and the school grounds, the West Third Street area, as well as the dry basin off of Minnesota 55, where Beckles had phoned a relative to pick him up.

Two smaller knives were found in Beckles’ home, but Hastings Police Chief Michael McMenomy says that these don’t seem to be the murder weapon.

Beckles has a history of juvenile citations and has allegedly used knives to threaten not only his mother, but other Hastings teens in the past.

The fight that lead to Griebling’s death took place after three individuals arrived at the residence of a 16-year-old girl, whose boyfriend, Allan Beckles, also 16, was visiting her.

Beckles climbed out of a window upstairs and jumped to the ground, when the three, including Griebling, chased him. Griebling and Beckles fought across the street at the elementary school, and police were called at 12:48 a.m., finding Griebling wounded—stabbed once in the back and twice in the chest.

Griebling was dead on arrival at Hastings’ Regina Memorial Hospital.

According to Beckles’ attorney, Lawrence Nichols, his client also received wounds, having been “cut at least twice by Griebling." Nichols is calling this a self-defense case as Beckles is only 5 feet 2 and less than 100 pounds while Griebling was 6 feet 4 and 160 pounds.

Nichols also believes that one of Griebling’s friends “may have found the weapon and placed it in a trash bin; he reportedly was spotted in the area the next day,? according to the Pioneer Press.

The incident is not believed to be gang-related.

September 18, 2007

Collision on the light rail

A minivan, whose 77-year old driver was attempting a U-turn, was hit by the Metro Transit’s light rail on Sunday.

Both the light-rail train and the minivan were headed north on 54th St., said Bob Gibbons, spokesperson for Metro Transit. The van attempted a U-Turn in front of the train after it pulled ahead, according to the Pioneer Press. Though the driver attempted to stop, the front of the train hit the vehicle, and the minivan then spun around to hit the side of the train.

Though the damage to the train was only “cosmetic,? according to Gibbons, service between Fort Snelling and 46th Street stopped for almost an hour.

The minivan could not be driven, but the driver was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center and didn’t have any significant injuries.

No one on the train was injured, according to the Pioneer Press.

Gibbons doesn’t think that this area of the light rail is problematic, according to the Star Tribune. Nor does he recommend turning on the train tracks.

September 16, 2007

Bicyclist found dead

A bicyclist, Mark Loesch, was found dead Thursday morning at 3732 Elliot Ave. S., which was less than two miles from his home, according to the Pioneer Press. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said that the cause of death was blunt force impacts to his head.

The Star Tribune reports that, “His death was ruled a homicide.? He had left late Wednesday night for a bike ride, but hadn’t returned.

Loesch was 41 and an avid bicyclist. The father of four, he had been married for 16 years.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday afternoon at Lakewood Cemetery.

Police were still investigating the case on Saturday.

September 13, 2007

A fatal beating

A 15-month old girl was beaten to death by her father who was sentenced to 13 years and 9 months in prison this morning.

Beauford Jackson III, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of his daughter, Destiny. Jackson punched his daughter repeatedly when she awoke crying on February 14, according to the Pioneer Press.

Destiny had suffered under her father’s care before, and had been placed into foster care in December. Two months later, she was given back to her parents.

Maeve Clifford, Destiny’s mother, had been at the grocery store, but when she returned home, she found her daughter having trouble breathing. Paramedics went to the apartment, and Destiny’s parents told them that Destiny had fallen out of bed, a claim they’d made months before when Destiny was found to have a skull fracture.

Jackson was charged with unintentional second-degree murder the following day, according to the Star Tribune.

Destiny’s grandmother, Mikael Clifford, described the child as an optimist.

Before the sentencing, Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary left Jackson with these words: “Mr. Jackson, you've had a very troubled life, a life for which you are primarily responsible. I hope destiny is with you every moment of your life.?