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April 29, 2008

Man charged with killing sex partner

Shaunell Johnson, 29, was charged Tuesday with the death of 15-year-old Joquese Loyd, according to the Star Tribune. Johnson apparently shot Loyd during an argument, and got upset over Loyd yelling.

According to case documents, police interviewed a woman at the house who was also in sexual relations with Johnson. She told police that she, Loyd, and another female took a bus to visit Johnson, also known as "Lunatic." The woman said she didn't know Johnson's real name and the word Lunatic was tatood on Johnson's neck.

When they arrived at Johnson's home, by the Near North neighborhood in Minneapolis, Loyd and Johnson began to fight, but soon made up. Later, Loyd confronted Johnson with a knife because he wouldn’t talk to her, yelling that she wasn't afraid of Johnson. Johnson then pulled out a gun and shot Loyd.

When police arrived, Johnson said he was planning on taking Loyd to the hospital. A .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun was found in a trash can nearby.

Loyd was also known as Jacques Brown, which she told police was her name in a previous arrest. She also said she was 19.

April 15, 2008

Xcel energy wants to extend power plant life

Xcel Energy asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Tuesday, for permission to boost the power generation of the Prairie Island nuclear power plant, and extend its operating life, according to the Pioneer Press. Xcel hopes to boost the plant's power by 20 percent and extend the plant's life by 20 years.

By boosting the power, the plant would need 35 more dry cask containers to store the extra nuclear waste being produced. Xcel will need to file an application later this spring for The Nuclear Regulatory Commission to consider.

The plant will also apply to extend its operating life by 20 years. They currently have a 40-year federal operating license, which will expire in 2013. The 20-year extension would permit the plant to continue running until 2033. Nuclear power plants must have regular inspections by the federal government, and many plants do receive continuance grants.

The Prairie Island plant's two generators produce about 20 percent of the electricity used by Xcel's Upper Midwest customers. The majority of Xcel power is still provided by coal and natural gas plants, and they are also looking into building wind farms.

April 8, 2008

Witness in Jones trial to take stand again

Former Gopher football player, Robert McField, is anticipated to take the stand again for further questioning in the case of an alleged rape by Dominic Jones, another former University of Minnesota football player, according to the Star Tribune.

Defense lawyer Earl Gray has been persistently asking Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum to allow him to recall McField and ask questions about his armed robbery conviction, for which he is currently in jail for. Before today, Gray was only allowed one question on the subject, whether or not McField had an unspecified conviction, to which he said yes.

McField is serving a 12 year sentence in Missouri for armed robberies, but that information has been hidden from the jury. Both times he appeared in court he was wearing a suit instead of an orange jumpsuit, and the jury was removed from the room while guards escorted McField in.

McField is a key witness for the prosecutors, since he is the only person to testify he saw Jones on top of the victim performing sexual acts. By bringing McField's criminal past to light the jury may have a harder time believing him.

April 1, 2008

Robber used attack dog during theft

St. Paul police said that a robbery on Wednesday was committed with the help of a trained pit bull, according to the Pioneer Press. Police said that Billy Gean Garrett Jr., 38, told his dog to attack a 54-year-old man after Garrett stole his money and punched him in the face.

Officers arrested Garrett, who hasn't been charged yet, and that the dog was considered an aggravating factor. St. Paul police said they could not recall any other time a dog was used to threaten somebody during a crime.

Police also aren't sure if the idea of using the pit bull as a weapon will hold up in court. St. Paul defense attorney Seamus Mahoney said that although it does seem like a stretch the dog may fit the criteria. ""It doesn't mean a jury would find the person guilty," Mahoney said.

The Minnesota law says that aggravated robbery occurs when a person "armed with a dangerous weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a dangerous weapon"

The victim, who asked for his name not to be published, said he was walking through a Wendy's parking lot when he pulled cigarettes out of his pocket, and accidently pulled some cash out as well. He said Garrett and a juvenile with Garrett punched him, took the money, and ordered the dog to attack. According to the victim the dog simply looked at him while holding a small football. He managed to flag down a car and call 911.

Garret was arrested a few hours later and the pit bull was taken to animal control.

March 25, 2008

Coach offers wrestlers beer

A 21-year-old coach for Woodbury High School is being investigated after 5 teens on his wrestling team turned him in for bringing a case of beer to the state high school wrestling tournament, reports the Star Tribune. The assistant coach wasn't an employee of the Washington County School District and because of the allegations will no longer be coaching at the high school.

Dennis Lazenberry, a father of one of the wrestlers, said his son felt uncomfortable when he was put in that situation. "The kids stuck together and did the right thing," he said. Lazenberry, who is also the vice president of the Woodbury wrestling booster club, said the assistant coach went into the boy's room with two high school girls and the beer. The boys left hoping he would too but was still there hours later. The boys turned him in the next morning to school officials.

A warrant is in progress to get video footage of the coach bringing the alcohol into the hotel. Tom Walsh, a St. Paul police spokesman, said that a fair amount of drinking does happen at events like this and hotels typically hire off-duty police during the tournaments.

March 11, 2008

Sting at Bloomington brings prostitution charges

Two metro men are facing felony prostitution charges after a sting at a brothel. Police had been investigating for over two months, according to the Star Tribune. Carlos Guadalupe-Laganes Jiminez, 25, of Wayzata and Eduardo Delariva-Larios, 35, of Bloomington were charged in Hennepin County Court Monday for promoting prostitution in a brothel on 102nd Street in Bloomington.

On Thursday police sent in an undercover officer who paid Larios $40 for a poker chip that he could use to exchange with a prostitute for 15 minutes of sex. The woman began stripping after receiving the chip, and police moved in. It seems that Larios and Jiminez thought that by using chips instead of direct cash they couldn't be charged with prostitution.

Women at the home explained to officers that Jimenez was a doorman and also escorted the women when they left. None of the women were allowed to leave without an escort. One woman claimed since working at the house she had sex with 150 paying customers.

Both of the men are in jail with $100,000 bail.

March 4, 2008

Shooting in Minneapolis possibly gang related

Police are looking for possible gang connections that caused the shooting of a 14-year-old Minneapolis boy, according to the Star Tribune. Augustin Andrade Navarro was hanging out with some friends when a car full of teens pulled up, exchanged some words, and then opened fire, hitting Navarro in the chest. Hours after that shooting, another happened in Richfield, causing the death of an 18-year-old man.

Police believe both shootings are gang related, but are still investigating whether the victims have gang affiliations. Gang related crimes haven't been a large problem since fall, but officials say there has been more activity in the past month. Navarro's mother said he wasn't in a gang, and didn't know why anybody would want to shoot her son.

Police say it's too early to make a definitive link between the two shootings, but there is enough similarity to investigate. In the past week Minneapolis police have taken guns from six gang members. Fourth Precinct Inspector Mike Martin said it's hard to track gangs and their members because they can change gang affiliations on a daily basis or use fake names. "You have to work harder at gathering intelligence and get the information out quickly," Martin said.

February 26, 2008

Gun shop owner charged with drug possession

A Monticello man was charged with two counts of drug possession and one count of storing drug paraphernalia in the presence of children after police found drugs in his home and business, according to the Star Tribune. Shea Pedersen was arrested after authorities searched the In Range, and indoor rifle range and gun shop, and found multiple types of illegal substances.

Police also searched Pedersen's home where they the bomb squad was called in to destroy explosives they found. Three children, ages 6 and under, were taken from the home during the search.

In total, police confiscated 43 grams of suspected methamphetamine, 327 grams of suspected hallucinogenic mushrooms, and drug paraphernalia. They also removed 108 guns from the Pedersen's gun shop.

Pedersen's wife was arrested and charged with negligent storage of a firearm. The three children were placed with Wright County Human Services.

February 19, 2008

Governor freezes hiring

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty ordered a soft hiring freeze for state agencies, facing a budget deficit, according to the Pioneer Press. In a memo written by Pawlenty he said that any positions that become vacant from now until the freeze is lifted should be left unfilled in every possible case and distribute work among other employees.

Critical positions, such as prison guards or emergency management staff will have to stay filled to protect the public but every new state hire must be confirmed through the Employee Relations Commissioner, Patricia Anderson.

The action is a result of $373 million budget deficit, and is the first of many more possible legislative actions to fix the problem. That deficit is likely to grow when a new revenue forecast is issued on Feb. 28. "Considering the current economic slowdown, it is important that state government take steps to reign in costs," Pawlenty wrote in a memo addressing the order.

February 12, 2008

1,000 marijuana plants confiscated in bust

One of the largest pot busts ever recorded in Ramsey County happened Monday, according to the Pioneer Press. A typical White Bear Lake suburban home was the location of over 1,000 marijuana plants that police confiscated during a drug bust, calling it some of the most they've ever seen.

The marijuana was about 4 feet tall, with an eventual value worth millions of dollars. Police spent all of Monday afternoon putting the plants into trucks, and loading the dozens of high-intensity heat lamps. Heat lamps are expensive to run and it was also discovered the house owner was bypassing electric meters so he could steal power.

Police wouldn't release the name of the man arrested but said he was in his mid-20s, and that there was an infant found at the home. The infant was taken to a local hospital because of possible hazardous conditions in the house. The house was condemned by White Bear Lake officials, who said the electrical modifications and high humidity with mold problems made the house unlivable.

Police say the case isn't unique and that there have been multiple similar cases, saying that marijuana growers will buy a house to use solely for growing in suburbs where they believe there's less chance of being caught.

February 5, 2008

Couple charged in toddler's beating

Two Columbia Heights residents are being held on separate charges involving the same case, the beating of a 20-month-old child. Francisco Camacho-Gil, 27, is being held on $100,000 bail Monday after being accused of beating his girlfriend’s baby, reports the Pioneer Press. His girlfriend, Maria Magda Ortega-Rodriguez is being charged separately for parental neglect and child endangerment. Her bail is set at $20,000.

Apparently Camacho had beaten the baby after becoming annoyed with her crying. When Ortega took the child to the hospital saying that she was vomiting and seemed tired, physicians quickly discovered she had fractured ribs, bruises to her liver, and other problems. "The doctors concluded that (the child) had been subjected to blunt force trauma" said a police report along with the charges.

Ortega lives with Camacho and allows him to watch her while she works during the day. Camacho did tell police that he's seeing an anger therapist. He also said that even after telling Ortega he had struck the baby that Ortega still allowed him to watch her.

January 29, 2008

Inmate Directing Child Porn From Cell

Joseph Soltis, a current inmate at Oak Park Heights Prison for murder, has been charged with directing child pornography over his cell phone. According to the Pioneer Press the girls are teenagers with developmental disabilities. Two others have also been charged in the case for helping Soltis; Carol Ann Blomster, 34, and Dawn Marie Johnson, 51. Apparently Soltis lied to Blomster, saying he was only in prison for tax evasion and then she agreed to be in pictures with the teenage girls for around $4,000. Soltis also told Blomster the pictures were for his motorcycle company calendar, of which neither exists. Johnson photographed Blomster and the teens multiple times from January to March of 2007 according to prosecutors. This all took place over cell phone while Soltis was still in jail, for which he's not eligible for parole until 2033. In 2001 he was convicted of chocking a woman to death at her home in 1999. Soltis has admitted to organizing the photo sessions and that he planned on selling them, but that he thought the teenage girls were both sixteen. He also claims that he has yet to see the photos. In Minnesota it is still illegal for someone of Blomster's age to have sexual intercourse with a sixteen year old according to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.