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February 2013 Archives

Husband arrested in case of missing St. Paul woman

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The husband of Kira Trevino, the St. Paul woman who has been missing since last Friday, has been arrested in connection to her disappearance, KARE 11 reports. Jeffery Trevino was arrested Tuesday morning after police discovered evidence of a crime in the couple's home.

Kira Trevino's car was found in a parking lot at the Mall of America where she is a store manager, her family said. Family members from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas met with investigators Monday while making their own efforts to find Trevino, including passing out flyers and creating Facebook posts.

Police would not elaborate on the nature of the evidence found at the home, which the Trevinos share with one roommate. Jeffery Trevino is being held in Ramsey County Jail on suspicion of homicide, the Star Tribune reports.

Hot air balloon crash kills 19 in Egypt

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A hot air balloon carrying mostly European and Asian tourists crashed Tuesday, killing 19 people near the Egyptian city of Luxor, Al Jazeera reports. The balloon caught fire and crashed after a gas explosion occurred in mid-air, authorities say. An employee of the tour company that owned the balloon said the pilot and one tourist were able to survive by jumping out of the basket before it hit the ground.

Witnesses report hearing a large boom and seeing smoke around the time of the incident. Some residents of the area report that the force of the explosion made their houses shake. This is the second hot air balloon crash in the region since 2009, when a balloon crash injured 13 tourists.

Ezzat Saad, the governor of the Luxor province, issued a ban on all hot air balloon flights as authorities investigate the incident. The crash comes during a time of struggle for the once--strong Egyptian tourism industry, Reuters reports. The number of tourists to the country dropped from 14.7 million in 2010 to just 9.8 million in 2011, in the wake of the uprising that deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop dies

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Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop died Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H. at the age of 96, CNN reports.

Koop – who served from1982 to 1989 under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush – was known for his outspoken views on smoking and work concerning HIV/AIDS. Koop used his position as a platform for anti-smoking efforts, the New York Times reports. Koop stated that he wanted to see a smoke-free America by 2000. During his time in office, the percentage of Americans who smoked dropped from 33 to 26.

Koop wrote and issued a pamphlet regarding HIV/AIDS in 1988 that was mailed to 107 million American households, setting a record for largest public health mailing ever. He was criticized by many for speaking out against AIDS while staying relatively silent on the topic of abortion. Although he opposed abortion, he chose to avoid preaching his views while in office.

Koop stayed active in the years since he left office, including appearing in a 2010 commercial against the Democratic healthcare proposal, and founding a medical information website in the late 90s. In a news release from Dartmouth College announcing his death, Dartmouth President Carol L. Folt said that Koop's legacy would be the impact he had on the health of the general public.

"Dr. Koop's commitment to education allowed him to do something most physicians can only dream of: improving the health of millions of people worldwide," Folt said.

Analysis: Spot/Follow

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For this analysis, I've chosen stories from the Guardian about Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius being charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. One story comes from February 14th, the day the incident occurred. The next is from February 15th.

The first lead, from the story on the 14th, focuses on how Pistorius was charged with murder. The story goes on to summarize the incident, quotes from neighbors, and statements from police about how Pistorius will be treated in court because of his celebrity. The remainder of the article provides a lot of background information on Pistorious and Steenkamp, who are both well-known in South Africa.

The second article begins by stating how Pistorious denied in court that he intentionally shot Steenkamp. The story goes on to describe the first day of court proceedings, ending with information about the investigation and very brief background information about Pistorious' rise to fame in this past summer's Olympics.

The difference in the two stories is clear, in that the first story chooses to lay out what is known about the incident, and then goes into plenty of background information on who was involved. The second story offers a more focused look at a specific detail of the case, the court hearing. Since most of the background information was taken care of in the first day's story, the follow up story doesn't need as much background information, and can focus more on the specific details of the hearing.

Crash injures fans at Daytona

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A crash during a NASCAR race at Daytona Speedway in Daytona, Fla. Saturday injured at least 28 fans, Reuters reports.

The incident occurred during the end of the Nationwide NASCAR race, when debris from a 10 car crash broke through a fence and flew into the stands. Driver Kyle Larson's car went airborne and broke into pieces, sending tires and an engine into the spectator area. All 10 drivers, including Larson, were checked out at a medical tent on site and released, CNN reports.

At least 14 fans were transported to two area hospitals, where at least four were reported to be on trauma alert. The rest were treated onsite and released. NASCAR officials say that although the protective fence broke, it did its job in preventing what could have been a much worse disaster.

Driver Tony Stewart was able to avoid the pileup, and went on to win the race. The Nationwide race comes one day before one of NASCAR's biggest events, the Daytona 500. SportingNews.com reports that track employees are working to repair the damaged fence in time for tomorrow's race, which is expected to go on as planned.

A 71-year-old Burnsville woman was accused of hitting her husband with a hammer and attempting to strangle him with a telephone cord in a criminal complaint filed Thursday, the Pioneer Press said.

Sharon Ripka faces charges of attempted domestic assault by strangulation, terroristic threats and interfering with a 911 call after she called police Monday, saying her husband had assaulted her. Burnsville police arrived at the couple's home and were met at the door by Ripka – her hands and clothes covered in blood – and her husband, also covered in blood and with a telephone cord wrapped around his neck.

Ripka's husband told officials that his wife had "just gone nuts" earlier that morning, and that she had began to beat him with a telephone when he tried to contact the police. He also said that he believes Ripka has dementia, although she has never been formally diagnosed, WCCO reports.

A source close to the couple said they fight frequently, but was unsure of any history of domestic violence between them. If charged, Ripka faces a maximum of 7 1/2 years in prison.

Google to partner with Minnesota tech community

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Google will team up with local technology company CoCo to present a two-year series of meeting, mixers, and other events for Twin Cities area technology entrepreneurs, MPR reports.

The partnership will include large events every three months, and two to four small events each month. All events are slated to take place at CoCo, a shared work space for tech entrepreneurs located in downtown Minneapolis in the former Grain Exchange Building, WCCO said.

Events will include networking events, educational workshops, and a program called Startup Weekend Twin Cities, which gives entrepreneurs a chance to develop a business idea and pitch it to a panel of judges. In addition to Minneapolis, Google is sponsoring similar programs incorporating Google technology in London and Chicago, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports.

Mary Grove, the director of global entrepreneurship for Google, told MPR that Minneapolis was chosen for the partnership for its thriving tech start-up community.

Thieves steal $50 million in diamonds at Brussels airport

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In a heist worthy of a blockbuster movie, thieves stole $50 million worth of diamonds and other precious gems Monday night from a plane preparing for departure from a Brussels airport, the New York Times reports.

The thieves – armed with semi-automatic weapons, police uniforms, and two cars outfitted with flashing lights – struck just minutes before a plane loaded with the precious cargo was set to depart for Switzerland, calmly ordering the pilot and flight crew to stand back while they unloaded the gems from the plane into their vehicles. Officials say that the well-executed nature of the crime indicates that the thieves knew about the flight.

The Washington Post reports that the 29 passengers on the plane – all boarded before the theft took place – report seeing nothing suspicious occur. Authorities say this is most likely due to the fact that the thieves, although armed with weapons, never fired a shot.

The only evidence found so far in the investigation is the charred remains of the van believed to been used in the heist has been found, authorities said. Airport officials suspect the thieves had help from an inside source, due to the well-organized and quiet nature of the theft.

Analysis: Structure

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For this analysis, I will be looking that this article from the Smoking Gun about a man who slapped a Minneapolis toddler on a flight to Atlanta.The structure of this story begins with the story of what happening leaded up to the man being charged with assault, followed with the fact that he was been charged. I disagree with the way that the reporter structured this part of the story. I think that since the most recent news is that the man has been charged with assault, this fact should have been put in the lead.

Going on, the story then constructs a narrative of what supposedly happened on the flight using interview clips from the man charged with slapping the toddler, details from a report filed from the FBI agent assigned to the investigation, and information from the mother of the toddler told to investigators.

After laying out how the incident happened, backed up with quotes from both sides of the story, the article goes into further detail about the man, including that he may have been intoxicated. After this, the reporter includes a small part about how the man has been charged with assault. As I mentioned earlier, if this is the most current news, this information should be higher up, and have more detail. Since the actual incident occurred on February 8th, chances are that the real news here is that he was charged with assault. However, the article fails to describe where he was charged, if he's still being held in custody, etc.

Finally, the story goes digs deep to find some interesting tidbits about the man's past criminal activity. This includes published a list of his past charges, and a quote in which the man claims his arrest for carrying a concealed weapon was simply for carrying a wine corkscrew. I thought this story did a good job at creating and detailing the narrative of the original event on the plane, but I think the reporter could have done a better job at looking into the actual event of the man being charged with assault.

A 60-year-old Idaho man has been charged with misdemeanor simple assault after passengers on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta say he slapped a crying toddler he was seated next to, and made racial insults to the mother of the boy, the Smoking Gun reports.

Joe Rickey Hundley, the president of Idaho-based aircraft parts manufacturer Unitech Composites and Structures, slapped 19-month-old Jonah Bennet as the Delta flight was in its final approach to Atlanta. Jessica Bennet, the boy's mother, said that Hundley also made racial comments about Jonah, who is African American.

Other passengers on the flight alerted the crew, who called authorities to meet the flight when it landed. Hundley told authorities that he was traveling to Atlanta to visit a hospitalized relative, and was simply "distraught" when the incident occured, USA Today reports. Bennet said that Hundley "reeked" of alcohol, and consumed several drinks over the course of the flight.

If convicted, Hundley could face up to one year in prison. Hundley has been arrested before, on charges of assault, carrying a concealed weapon, and public intoxication. In an interview with the Smoking Gun, he that the weapon he was accused of carrying was simply a wine corkscrew.

Meteorite injures hundreds in Russia

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An 11-ton meteorite hit the Chelyabinsk region of Russia Friday morning, injuring over 500 people and causing damage in six different cities, USA Today reports.

The bulk of the meteorite landed on the outskirts of the city of Chelyabinsk, but smaller fragments, explosions, and aftershocks damaged buildings and knocking out mobile networks for hours. Russia's Emergency Ministry said that at the most recent count, more than 500 people were injured, with at least 20 needing hospitalization, the Guardian reports.

Unconfirmed reports circulated on Russia's state-owned TV station that local air defense systems had blown up the meteorite while it was still 12 miles above the Earth. Authorities now confirm that Russia does not have the technology to bring down an object of that size while still in the air.

Officials informed Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, of the incident.

"I hope the consequences will not be serious," Medvedev said. "It's proof that not only are economies vulnerable, but the whole planet."

Man charged in shooting of 9-year-old St. Paul boy

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An Oakdale, Minn. man was charged Wednesday in an apparently random shooting Monday that left a 9-year-old boy dead and two others injured, the Pioneer Press reports.

Nhan Lap Tran was charged with second-degree murder, among other counts, in Washington County District Court. The judge also ordered Tran to undergo a mental health examination.

Tran was arrested Monday night, after police say he opened fire on cars on 7th Street in Oakdale. One of those cars was a minivan containing 9-year-old Devin Aryal and his mother, the Star Tribune reports.

Aryal died from multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head. His mother, Melissa Aryal, was sent to the hospital after being shot to the arm. Another driver was also injured in the attack, which police say appears to be unmotivated.

"It appears to be completely random," Oakdale Police Chief Bill Sullivan said. Tran, who has no previous criminal record, is currently being held on $2 million bail.

President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address Tuesday to congress and guests gathered at the U.S. Capitol building, focusing his speech on the issues of job creation, immigration reform, and gun control USA Today reports.

In the address, Obama spoke on the issue of job creation, stating that the creating new jobs for the middle class is necessary for full economic recovery. He also stated that immigration laws must be overhauled, in order to give a viable path to citizenship to more than 11 million illegal immigrants.

Obama's push for stricter gun control struck an emotional chord for many in the audience, the Chicago Tribune reports. Among those gathered at the Capitol were the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teen who died as a result of gun violence days after performing at President Obama's inauguration. Many present in the audience also wore green ribbons, in memory for those who died in December school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The Republican response to the State of the Union address came from Florida Senator Marco Rubio. In his response, given in both Spanish and English, Rubio shared his experiences as the middle-class child of immigrants while addressing Obama's plans for economic recovery and the debt that has accumulated since Obama took office in 2008.

Rubio's response put him in the spotlight in a position that many consider a precursor to running for President, Politico reports. Rubio is among one of the strongest GOP candidates for the next presidential election, with a quick rise to political fame similar to Obama's that leads many to believe he will run in 2016.

Pope unexpectedly resigns, shocks Catholic church

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Pope Benedict XVI shocked the Catholic world by resigning Monday, claiming his advanced age and failing health make fulfilling his duties difficult, the Washington Post reports.

Speaking in Latin to a private group of church officials, Pope Benedict explained his failing physical and mental health prevent him from adequately serving his office. His resignation – the first by a pope in over 600 years – will become effective on Feb. 28.

Pope Benedict has been criticized over the course of his eight-year reign by many for his opposition of homosexuality, remarks comparing Islam to violence, and failure by the Church to address child abuse by priests. Whether or not his successor will carry on his conservative agenda, or be more flexible to modern views, is still unknown Reuters reports.

Church insiders speculate new pope could be elected as soon as Palm Sunday, in order to preside over Holy Week festivities. Many in the church community have expressed wishes for the next pope to be from a developing country where Catholicism is growing. The secret conclave to elect the next pope is expected to begin in mid-March.

Analysis: Attribution

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In this story from the LA Times about a Duke fraternity that has been suspended for throwing a racist Asian-themed party uses a variety of sources, including students, school administrators, Duke's school newspaper, the fraternity's chapter president, national director, and the email invite that started the whole ordeal.

The sources are spread about the story, which allows the it to flow well while still allowing each side involved to tell their side. While most of the sources are actual people, the parts of this story quoted from the email invitation serve as the most effective, detailing the racist comments made by the fraternity and allowing the reader to understand the gravity of the situation.

The reporter who wrote the story attributed each part of the story effectively. For example, a quote from the fraternity's president originally ran in Duke's student paper was attributed to both the president and the paper. Specific facts about the fraternity's history that wouldn't be considered common knowledge are attributed properly as well.

Overall, the attribution in this story does a good job of expressing who was involved, and why their opinion matters. The reporter also did a good job at including a variety of sources, and providing equal each side involved with fair and balanced coverage.

Authorities offer $1 million reward for fugitive ex-cop

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Authorities in Los Angeles posted a $1 million reward Sunday for the capture Christopher Dorner, an ex-cop who has become the subject of a massive manhunt since police say he shot and killed a couple and an LAPD police officer last week, CNN reports.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says the reward – which was collected from private donors, community groups, and local businesses – is "the largest ever offered, to our knowledge." Dorner served on the LAPD until 2009, when he was let go for making a false claim of excessive force against his training officer. One of Dorner's victims was the daughter of the police officer who represented him in the hearing that led to his firing, leading authorities to believe the shootings were motivated by revenge.

Authorities have offered the reward in hopes of ending the manhunt, and the fear that Dorner has imposed on the Los Angeles law enforcement community. In the past week, Dorner has published a rant on Facebook stating his intent to seek revenge on his former colleagues, as well as mailing a package to CNN anchor Anderson Cooper with a commemorative coin filled with bullet holes and a note that said "I never lied," TIME Magazine reports.

At least 50 families of LAPD employees have been put under police protection as a result of the online rant. At a press conference, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that the community will no longer tolerate the reign of fear that has fallen over the area in the wake of Dorner's disappearance.

"We will not tolerate anyone undermining the security, the tranquility of our neighborhoods and our communities," Villaraigosa said. "We will not tolerate this murderer remaining at large."

Minneapolis police officer charged in underage sex case

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A Minneapolis police officer accused with having sexual encounters with underage girls he met online was charged Friday with felonies, the Pioneer Press reports.

Bradley Schnickel was charged in Anoka County court on two charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, one charge of attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and three counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing sexual conduct with a child.

Authorities say that Schnickel had contact with at least four girls between the ages of 12 and 14. The Star Tribune reports that he initiated contact through social media sites, such as Twitter, by posing as a younger man. An investigation was launched into Schnickel's activities after a parent of one of the girls complained to police about her daughter having inappropriate contact with him via social networking.

Schnickel is currently being held in jail, and has been ordered to have no contact with girls, including his two daughters.

Postal Service ends Saturday mail delivery to cut costs

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The United States Postal Service announced Wednesday that it will be ending mail delivery service on Saturdays in an effort to cut costs, USA Today reports.

The proposed plan would end all delivery of letters, magazines, and advertisements on Saturdays beginning in August, but allow for delivery of packages, which has seen an increase in the past few years due to an increase in online shopping sales. If implemented, the plan could potentially save $2 billion per year.

But the cost-saving proposal has received mixed reviews from Capitol Hill, where it would need congressional approval before being formally implemented, Fox News said. Many feel that stopping Saturday news service would inconvenience people rural areas, like Alaska, that mail reaches slower than the rest of the country. With one less day a week for mail delivery, items like Social Security checks could take longer to reach their destinations.

In a statement Fredric Rolando, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers called the plan "disastrous."

"It would be particularly harmful to small businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication," Rolando said.

The USPS has attempted in the past to cut mail delivery to five days a week, but was never successful in its appeals to Congress.

After spending five centuries evading scientists and historians, bones found under British parking lot have been confirmed as those of the infamous King Richard III, National Geographic reports.

The nearly intact skeleton was found last fall during an archaeological dig in an area where a friary reported to have housed Richard's remains once stood. After months of DNA testing and analysis researchers revealed Monday that the bones do, in fact, belong to the man immortalized in countless films and plays. The king was most notably represented in Shakespeare's Richard III as a villainous, murdering man – a reputation that many, including the Richard III Society, have fought to disprove.

Scientists spent time comparing the DNA from the bones with that of modern-day descendants of Richard, as well as studying the curvature of the skeleton's spine. Richard was known to have suffered from scoliosis, a fact featured in Shakespeare's play, the New York Times said.

The bones indicate that Richard died of wounds sustained in battle – most likely a skull fracture and several stab wounds to his face – a fact that historians have known for centuries. But the finding of the bones in a shallow, ill-dug grave under a parking lot have brought more than scientific suspicions to rest. Many, like Richard III Society member and writer Phillipa Langley, are thankful that after years of searching, the infamous king can finally rest as royalty.

"Now we can rebury him with honor," Langely said, "and we can rebury him as a king."

Obama visits Minneapolis, discusses gun control

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President Obama visited Minneapolis on Monday to meet with local law enforcement officials and community leaders in a discussion about gun control, the Pioneer Press reports.

Obama's visit is part of his recent push for stricter gun control laws in the wake of a December shooting in Newtown, Conn. that left over twenty elementary school students and teachers dead. In a speech to an invited group at the Minneapolis Police Department's Special Operations Center, Obama congratulated Minneapolis for the progress the city has made in reducing youth gun violence. "You've shown that progress is possible," Obama said in a report from the Star Tribune.

But Obama's visit served as more than just a pat on the back for MInneapolis' progress - it served as a reminder of recent incidents of gun violence in the state as well.

Among those invited to a private roundtable with the president – which included Hennepin County Sherrif Rich Stanek, MInneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak – was John Souter, the only survivor of a shooting at Minneapolis' Accent Signage last September, and Sami Rahamim, the son of Accent owner Reuven Rahamim. In addition, the site of Obama's visit was located just four blocks away from where a 5-year-old boy was killed by gunfire during a gang dispute last summer.

Obama's Minneapolis visit was his first gun-control centered event outside of Washington D.C., a move that drew praise from gun-control advocates, including Souter. "If we don't have the moral courage to support the president of the United States, shame on us," Souter said.

Analysis: Leads

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In this article by the Associated Press found on the Star Tribune website, the lead to the story includes general details about the capture of the mistakenly freed convict, as well as details providing a bit of back story as to why he was free to begin with.

The lead begins with a bit of back story, incorporating the "who." The author describes that the convict was allowed to leave a jail that he technically did not need to be in two days ago. There is just enough detail in this part of the lead to fill the reader in on the previous part of this story, the fact that this convicted killer was just allowed to walk out of jail, but not bog down the lead with too much background information. This part of the lead also hooks me in as a reader, by providing just enough detail to avoid being vague, but at the same time make me want to keep reading.

The last part of the lead takes care of the what and where in a fairly straightforward manner. We know that the who (the convict) was captured again (what) in northern Illinois (where). The last W, the when, isn't as straightforward as the rest of the lead. We know that the recapture of the killer happened two days after he was mistakenly allowed to walk free, but this lead doesn't give a specific date or day of the week that this occurred. However, the lead does include that the man was recaptured while watching TV, a detail that can fall into the "when" category but mostly seems to be added to lighten the mood of the story, and reinforce the fact that the man didn't put up a chase and went willingly with police.

Over all, this lead does a good job at communicating details to establish that this is merely a new part in an ongoing story, while still (for the most part) giving the four W's in a straightforward manner that informs the reader, and hooks them in to wanting to read the rest of the story.

Officials are still trying to determine what caused a massive explosion to occur Friday at Mexico's state oil company headquarters, Reuters reports.

While experts speculate that the blast may have been caused by a gas leak or a boiler exploding, some believe the incident was the result of a bomb. Experts worked alongside emergency personnel to rescue survivors, and dig through the rubble in an attempt to determine the cause of the blast. The explosion took place at the Pemex office complex, which houses one of Mexico's tallest skyscrapers, CNN said.

Thirty three people were confirmed dead, and 121 people were injured in Friday's blast. The blast marks yet another issue for the state-run Pemex, whose reputation has been tarnished over the years due to security problems, oil theft, and multiple accidents. The explosion also serves as a test for newly-instated President Enrique Pena Nieto, who said overhauling the troubled company would be one of his biggest priorities upon taking office.

The girlfriend of a St. Paul man who was run over by a car in an incident recorded by a 911 call has been charged with his death, the Star Tribune reports.

Arlene Garcia was charged Thursday with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, after police say she and another woman ran her boyfriend, Mark Urang, over with her car after a domestic dispute at a St. Paul bar.

Police say the incident was caught on tape during a call between 911 operators and Urang Wednesday night. The recording reveals an argument between Urang and another person, followed by what police believe are the sounds of Urang being run over my Garcia's car before the call cut off, the Pioneer Press said. Urang was taken to Regions Hospital, where he died on Thursday of a hemorrhage and a skull fracture sustained in the incident.

Investigators found Garcia at her home after looking through criminal records for an address, and questioning bartenders at the bar she and Urang were spotted arguing at earlier in the evening. A car was found at Garcia's home, with what investigators believe to be shreds of clothing on the under body of the car. Garcia is currently being held at Ramsey County Jail on $100,000 bail.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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