Recently in Local News Category

County Attorney Ordered to Stay Away from Teen

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By Brett Stolpestad

A Cook County prosecutor has been issued a restraining order filed by the parents of a 17-year-old girl, alleging that he engaged in an improper relationship with their daughter, the Star Tribune reported.

Attorney Tim Scannell, 46, was ordered by a judge Tuesday to stay away from the 17-year-old girl and her parents, the Pioneer Press reported.

The restraining order was signed by a judge after the girl's parents alleged that Scannell had confessed he was in love with their daughter and that he had kissed her. Scannell is married with two children, the Star Tribune reported.

The parents reported that Scannell was a longtime family friend and had promised to stop contacting their daughter. But Scannell continued to call, text, and send emails, the Pioneer Press reported.

Scannell's attorney released a statement assuring that his client had not committed any crimes or any act of sexual harassment, the Star Tribune reported.

The two-year restraining order was handed down to Scannell almost a year after he was shot by a man he was prosecuting for having sex with a minor, the Star Trbune reported.

By Brett Stolpestad

A man committed suicide Wednesday during a standoff with police after shooting his ex-wife just outside of Pine City, the Star Tribune reported.

The man shot his ex-wife in the chest before shooting himself during a standoff with sheriff's deputies, the Pioneer Press reported. The woman had barricaded herself in the bathroom before police could arrive.

Police cornered the man in the house and tried to talk him down for almost two hours before he shot himself, the Pioneer Press reported.

A SWAT team had been called to the Brook Park home to get the woman out of the house. The standoff began after the SWAT team threw flashbang grenades inside the house in order to apprehend the attacker, the Pioneer Press reported.

The woman was admitted to a Duluth hospital and was in serious condition, the Star Tribune reported.

Identities of those involved have not been released.

Slain Little Falls Teens Linked to Additional Break-ins

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By Brett Stolpestad

The two teenage cousins killed in during Thanksgiving Day break-in have been linked to another break-in, the Star Tribune reported.

Haile Kifer and Nicholas Brady, who were killed on Thanksgiving Day when they broke into a Little Falls residence, have been linked to a burglary that took place hours before their deaths and only a few miles away, the Star Tribune reported.

The Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel released a statement Wednesday that said investigators had found prescription drugs and other items in the teenagers' red Mitsubishi Eclipse, the Pioneer Press reported.

The drugs and other items were reported stolen from another Little Falls residence a few miles away from where the teens were killed, the Pioneer Press reported.

Sheriff's deputies reported that they had approached Brady the night before he was killed after his car was reported by a homeowner on Hilton Road. The homeowner, Richard Johnson, reported that the car was "parked suspiciously," the Pioneer Press reported.

Brady told police that he and Kifer were driving around and had run out of gas, the Star Tribune reported.

When deputies searched the car after the shootings, they found several bottles of prescription medication with Johnson's name on them, the Star Tribune reported.

Little Falls Man Charged

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By Brett Stolpestad

A Little Falls man was charged with second degree-murder Monday for shooting and killing two teenagers in his home on Thanksgiving Day, the New York Times reported.

Byron Davis Smith, 64, was charged Monday after he shot and killed Nicholas Brady, 17, and Haile Kifer, 18, during a Thanksgiving Day break-in, the New York Times reported.

The two teenagers, Kifer and Brady, were unarmed when they reportedly broke into Smith's home, the Pioneer Press reported. Smith shot both of the teenagers multiple times with is revolver and a rifle, the New York Times reported.

Smith acknowledged in court that he fired "more shots than I needed to," the New York Times reported.

The Morrison County sheriff, Michel Wetzel, said that Smith had waited until Friday to report the deaths of the two teenagers. Authorities agree that Smith used excessive and unnecessary force in protecting his home, the Pioneer Press reported.

Friends of Smith reported that Smith experienced multiple break-ins in his former residence near the Mississippi River. Smith had feared that the two teenagers were carrying weapons, the Pioneer Press reported.

Another Man Sentenced 21 Years In St. Paul Gang Rape Case

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By Brett Stolpestad

Another man was convicted and sentenced to 21 years in prison Wednesday for the rape of a 14-year old girl, the Star Tribune reported.

Vang Tou Ger Vue of St. Paul was sentenced to 21 years in prison Wednesday by a Ramsey County judge for his involvement in the gang-related rape of a 14-year-old girl, the Star Tribune reported.

Vue, 19, will also remain on conditional release for 10 years after his prison sentence has expired. Vue will be required to register as a predatory sex offender for the rest of his life, the Star Tribune reported.

Vue is one of nine other gang-members, thought to have ties with the True Blood street gang, involved in the rape of the 14-year-old girl, the Star Tribune reported.

The rape occurred in November of last year. In his plea hearing, Vue said he raped the girl as five other men waited their turn, the Pioneer Press reported.

Vue pleaded guilty on Oct. 3 to aiding and abetting first-degree criminal sexual assault. Vue was the fifth, of nine convicted, to plead guilty, the Pioneer Press reported.

Red Bull Crashed Ice Returning to St. Paul

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By Brett Stolpestad

St. Paul will be hosting the Red Bull Crashed Ice event for the second consecutive year this January and this time the course will be taller, longer and tougher, the Star Tribune reported.

The course for the Crashed Ice event will be longer and higher than last year's course, officials said Wednesday. The course will be constructed to wind down the hill of the St.Paul Cathedral, the Pioneer Press reported.

The ice-covered course will be over 1,300 feet long. Skaters will drop more than 130 feet as they make their way down the course, dodging obstacles and other skaters on the way.

The Crashed Ice event is set to begin the same weekend as the St. Paul Winter Carnival from Jan. 24-26. Last year's Winter Carnival drew nearly 100,000 people to the city and generated almost $20 million, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Red Bull event will not be considered a Winter Carnival event but it is the hope of city officials that Crashed Ice will be come a signature attraction for the carnival, the Star Tribune reported.

The Red Bull crashed Ice race in St. Paul will be the only race set to be held in the United States, the Star Tribune reported.

Como Zoo Polar Bear Recovered After Health Scare

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By Brett Stolpestad

The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory's visiting polar bear, Berlin, has rejoined the rest of the bears after recovering from major surgery, the Pioneer Press reported.

Berlin was relocated to the Como Zoo after the major flooding at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth. After being relocated, zookeepers observed that Berlin was acting out of the ordinary and later found that the bear was suffering from internal bleeding, the Star Tribune reported.

It was determined that the internal bleeding was caused by a mass of dead tissue. Berlin underwent major surgery at the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Medical Center to remove the dead tissue, the Pioneer Press reported.

Berlin has since made a strong recovery from the surgery and has rejoined the two other twin bears Buzz and Neil at the Como Zoo exhibit, the Star Tribune reported.

Abusive Priest Pleads Guilty In Sexual Abuse Case

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By Brett Stolpestad

An Oakdale catholic priest pleaded guilty in a Ramsey County District Court Thursday, admitting to sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography, the Pioneer Press reported.

Curtis Carl Wehmeyer, 48, admitted to sexually abusing the boys while he was a pastor at Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, the Pioneer Press reported. Wehmeyer pleaded also pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

According to a statement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Wehmeyer is banned from the ministry. However, he will still remain a priest without the ability to perform any duties of the church, the Star Tribune reported.

Wehmeyer admitted on Thursday of molesting two boys, 14 and 15 years old, from June to August of 2010 in a camper that was parked outside of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in St. Paul, the Star Tribune reported. Wehmeyer was parish pastor at the time.

Wehmeyer pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual assault, two counts of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and 17 counts of possessing child pornography, the Star Tribune reported.

Wehmeyer did not receive a plea bargain and his sentencing is scheduled for February, the Star Tribune reported.

By Brett Stolpestad

Mankato Football Coach Todd Hoffner spoke in court in Mankato Wednesday saying the the cell phone video of his naked children in the bathtub was innocent, the Star Tribune reported.

Hoffner, 46, denied the accusations against him of recording a pornographic video of his children in the bathtub saying that he was merely recording a skit that his children had come up with, the Pioneer Press reported.

Hoffner spoke publicly for the first time since his arrest in August on felony charges of child pornography, the Star Tribune reported.

Hoffner, of Eagle Lake, testified in a Blue County District Court asking the judge to dismiss the charges against him, saying that there was no inappropriate content in the video, the Pioneer Press reported. Hoffner's wife, Melodee, has defended her husband, saying that the videos were misinterpreted by authorities.

Social workers have not found any evidence of the children being abused and there has been no evidence of child pornography on Hoffner's home computer, the Pioneer Press reported.

By Brett Stolpestad

More than 100 University of Minnesota Athlete gathered at Bierman Athletic Complex Monday to shave their heads as a part of a fundraiser for cancer research, the Star Tribune reported.

The fundraiser was organized by a University student and member of the Gopher football team, Connor Cosgrove, who has been battling leukemia since he was diagnosed in 2010, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Cosgrove is on the final stages of his treatment after a long battle with the disease. His cancer has been in remission since the first 29 days of his treatment, the Minnesota Daily reported.

The University of Minnesota football team is partnering with St. Baldrick's foundation to raise money for pediatric cancer research, the Star Tribune reported.

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