April 26, 2007

17-year-old charged with Murder

By Diane White

A local 17-year-old was charged Wednesday as a juvenile, with second degree murder, in the shooting death of another teenager on a Metro Transit bus in downtown early Sunday.
Ramsey County Prosecutors believe there's enough evidence to convict Jerome Pablo Cross of the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Earl Freeman. Evidence includes: eye witnesses, video surveillance, and weapons, according to the AP.
Prosecutors are also asking the judge to move the case to adult court, according to Kare 11. The decision won't be made for a few weeks and in the meantime, Cross will remain in custody, partly for his own safety.
About 40 family members and supporters stood outside the courthouse today as Cross was charged, yelling for his freedom and claiming his innocence, according to the Star Tribune.

Willmar Remembers a Lost Soldier

By Diane White

Family and friends of Army Sgt. Joshua Schmit said goodbye to him at funeral service Wednesday in Willmar. He was 26.
The funeral was held at the civic center where Schmit once played hockey. Much of community remembered him as their hometown hero and the 58th Minnesotan to die at war in Iraq, according to Kare 11.
Schmit was killed in Fallujah, Iraq April 14 when a roadside bomb exploded. He was due to come home ten days after his death, according to WCCO.
In recent emails to family members, Schmit said he was looking forward to coming home and traveling the world with his wife Andrea, according to the AP.

April 21, 2007

Pioneer Press searches Star Tribune Computers

By Diane White

A Ramsey County District Court judge ruled Friday that the Pioneer Press will get access to several computers and servers from the rival Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis.
The 13-page decision, by Judge David Higgs, said the Star Tribune has 48 hours to hand over Par Ridder's three work computers and his home computer to the Pioneer Press, according to the Pioneer Press. The order also called for a turn over of paper documents belonging to the Pioneer Press within two days.
The Pioneer Press has alleged that Ridder took a folder containing noncompete agreements signed by him and other executives after his departure from his position as publisher of the Pioneer Press to become the publisher of the Star Tribune, according to the AP.
The judge also granted a request from the St. Paul paper that the Star Tribune's director of niche publications, Jennifer Parratt, be temporarily suspended. Parratt was hired away from the Pioneer Press, and started at the Star Tribune on Tuesday, according to the Star Tribune.

April 20, 2007

St. Paul Fire Chief Takes a Job in Milwaukee

By Diane White

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission unanimously selected Doug Holton for a four-year term as chief Thursday night.
Holton will be returning to his hometown where he spent roughly 25 years as a Milwaukee firefighter before coming to St. Paul in 2003, according to the Pioneer Press. He accepted his new position hours after the offer.
This new opportunity for Holton comes halfway through his first term as St. Paul's fire chief and weeks after a stunning no-confidence vote from his firefighters according to the StarTribune.
Bobbie Webber, president of the Milwaukee firefighters' union, said, "We have concerns about his history with the union up there, but we're prepared to work through the issues and move forward."

April 13, 2007

St. Paul Pioneer Press Sues it's Former Publisher

By Diane White

The St. Paul Pioneer Press sued its former publisher Thursday, accusing Par Ridder and two others of stealing sensitive information when they left for new jobs at the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis.
The 46-paged lawsuit is aimed at the StarTribune's new owner, Avista Capital Partners, as well as Ridder and two other former Pioneer Press employees, according to the Pioneer Press.
The suit alleges that Ridder plotted his move to the Star Tribune nearly six months before his departure in March and took computer files loaded with confidential data about Pioneer Press advertisers, company budgets and business plans with him, according to the AP.
The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul asks that: Ridder and the two other employees not be allowed to work at the StarTribune for one year, claims all three are violating non-compete clauses they had at the Pioneer Press, asks that the computer information is not used and that an expert be allowed to inspect the defendant's computers and destroy files containing Pioneer Press data.

Teen Mother Accused of stabbing her newborn over 100 Times

By Diane White

A 17-year-old Minn. teenager was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the death of her baby, which prosecutors allegedly said, she dumped in a garbage can outside her home in Oakdale after stabbing the baby over 100 times.
Nicole M. Beecroft was charged in Washington County District Court, if convicted, she could spend the rest of her life in prison according to the Pioneer Press, bail is expected to be set Fri.
Authorities were allegedly tipped off by an anonymous caller Tuesday, who told police that a cashier at a Cub Foods grocery store in St. Paul had given birth to a stillborn baby and threw it in the garbage at her home. Police talked to a store-manager who confirmed Beecroft had called in sick the last two days, according to the AP.
Police contacted Beecroft who admitted to giving birth Mon., to a stillborn baby. When police found the baby, bloody towels, and a knife in the garbage however they confronted her again and she allegedly admitted to stabbing the baby after seeing her finger move, according to the StarTribune.
No one knew of the girl's pregnancy.

April 6, 2007

PawnShops Sue St. Paul

By Diane White

Cash-N-Pawn and Pawn America of Minn., filed federal civil rights suits on the city of St. Paul Thursday, for allegedly seizing property unconstitutionally.
Data from the filed-suit allegedly shows that St. Paul Police have confiscated $623,000 worth of goods from Jan. 1998 to April 2004, from the two pawnshops without explanation or compensation, according to the Star Tribune.
The suit also explained that this often happens when police suspect items are evidence of a crime, and allegedly St. Paul police have done this at other pawnshops outside of the city.
Pawn America owner Brad Rixmann, said he wants to help officers who are trying to locate stolen property but believes the system is out of control, according to the Pioneer Press.

Two Minnesotans are Killed in Florida

By Diane White

Two Minnesotan women died Thursday after a Corvette struck their rental car in South Florida.
The women were Jennifer Keesey, 33, and Renae Gustafson, 43. A third woman, Kristine Boike, 44, of Brooklyn Park, was seriously injured, according to the AP.
The incident report said the women's rental car, a Monte Carlo, was attempting a U-turn when it was struck by the Corvette. The force of the crash knocked the motor of Monte Carlo from the frame of the car, and sent the Corvette airborne.
The driver of the Corvette was Eric Parr, 33, of Pompano Beach, who was treated for non-life threatening injuries along with his passenger. It has not been disclosed whether or not drugs or alcohol were involved.
The women were on vacation and were expected home Friday, family and friends said, according to the Star Tribune.

March 30, 2007

Many Mourn Victims in the St. Paul Murders

By Diane White

Hundreds of people gathered at a St. Paul funeral home Friday to mourn the deaths of three victims in last week's triple homicide.
Otahl Saunders, 31, his fiancée Maria McLay, 32, and her 15-year-old daughter, Brittany Kekedakis, were shot to death last Friday in their North End home when a group of masked men broke in allegedly looking for drugs and money, according to the Star Tribune. No arrests have been made yet.
Among the mourners were friends of Kekedakis’ from Como Park High School, who wore T-shirts with the words, "we love you Brittany." The shirts are being sold at school to raise money for the surviving children.
McLay's two younger children, a 7-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl, were allegedly lying next to the victims when they were shot and witnessed the murders. Saunders was the father of two children.

Rep. Keith Ellison On His Way to the Middle East

By Diane White

Rep. Keith Ellison arrived in Israel Friday along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House members on a weeklong trip to the Middle East.
Ellison a Minnesota Democrat is also the first Muslim elected to Congress, according to the StarTribune.
The group plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and to travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to Ellison's spokesman, Rick Jauert. They plan to visit Syria and Saudi Arabia as well.
Pelosi is expected to deliver a speech to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, Sunday evening, in her office, according to the AP. She will discuss the U.S. commitment to Israel, as well as challenges the two nations face in the Middle East, according to the AP.

March 22, 2007

Suspect in Custody for the St. Anthony Murder

By Diane White

A 17-year-old St. Anthony boy, who allegedly shot another teen, turned himself into custody early Thursday.
The boy was picked up from downtown Minneapolis by a St. Anthony officer, at about 9 a.m., said Chief John Ohl. Police had been looking for him since just after midnight when officers were called to the 2700 block of 37th Ave. N.E. on a report of gun shots, according to the Star Tribune.
Authorities have not yet released the names of the two boys, although they said that this shooting was not random. The gun believed to have been used in the shooting was found at the scene by police, according to Kare11.
This case was the first homicide in St. Anthony, a small village outside of Downtown Minneapolis, in more that 15 years, according to the Pioneer Press.

Suspect Arrested for the Death of a 5-week-old Boy

By Diane White

Police charged a 25-year-old Minneapolis man Wednesday, with second-degree murder, for allegedly killing a 5-week-old boy.
Daniel Leikas, was the boy's caregiver, police said. A criminal complaint accused Leikas of growing frustrated with the baby because the 5-week-old had been crying much of the night. The complaint states that Leikas told police he held the boy over his head and slammed him into a car seat, according to the Pioneer Press.
The child, Delijahjuan Lee Winden, died Tues. from “blunt force head injuries," according to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office. The baby was killed in an apartment on the 1200 block of Thomas Avenue N., according to the Star Tribune.
Police were called Tuesday around 6:30 a.m. by the victim's mother, who reported that her son was not breathing. The baby was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the AP.

March 14, 2007

Flooding in Minnesota

By Diane White

Rising floodwaters Wednesday forced 100 people to be evacuated from their homes in Browns Valley, Minn.
The Little Minnesota River apparently crested at about 7 a.m. and then dropped six inches by 10 a.m., according to the Star Tribune. The Red Cross opened a shelter at Browns Valley School, where about 60 people are staying. As many as 50 homes were flooded and Mayor Jeff Backer is asking that the city be declared a disaster area.
The National Weather Service reported flooding hit the town from two sides, the Western ice-clogged Little Minnesota River and the Southern overland flooding, according to the AP. Much of the flooding is attributed to the ice jams on the river, many of which are too big to break up with the cities current equipment.

Church Officials Criticize Gay Catholics

By Diane White

Participants in the national homosexuality and Catholism symposium, taking place March 16-18 in Bloomington, Minn. will not be able to celebrate Mass.
Archbishop Harry Flynn, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, sent a letter to the organization heading the conference New Ways Ministry. In the letter, he stated that having Mass would mislead Archdiocese members into believing the speakers' views had the church's sanction, according to the Pioneer Press.
Negotiations over having Mass took place between the two parties however they failed and instead participants are urged to attend Mass at churches nearby, according to the AP. The symposium, "Outward Signs: Lesbian/Gay Catholics in a Sacramental Church," is the sixth meeting to take place and in the other locations they were allowed to celebrate Mass.
Francis DeBernardo, director of New Ways Ministry, has voiced the group’s disappointment in Flynn's actions. The conference will still take place and has 500 people registered to attend, according to the Star Tribune.

March 1, 2007

A Minnesota State Veterans Home Under Scrutiny

By Diane White

Gov. Tim Pawlenty ordered the Minnesota Department of Health Wednesday, to monitor daily activities at the Minneapolis Veterans Home, after the recent deaths of 3 veterans.
The order from Pawlenty came after state inspectors Tuesday said that the veterans may have died from neglect or medication errors last month, according to the StarTribune. He also ordered the state board overseeing the home to hire a consultant to assume day-to-day operations within two weeks, according to the Pioneer Press.
Just in the last few years, the health department has found several violations at the home which state officials say compromise the veterans' care, and as a result, the federal government has threatened to pull funding according to Kare11.

A New Theme arrives at the Mall of America

By Diane White

Mall of America Officials announced Wednesday that a branding-rights deal has been struck with the cable-TV network, Nickelodeon.
Nickelodeon cartoon characters such as: Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Dora the Explorer and Danny Phantom will become the new mascots of the former "Camp Snoopy," according to the MNSun.
The mall retired the name "Camp Snoopy" in Jan., of 2006, after they failed to reach an agreement with Cedar Fair, the company that has exclusive rights to Peanuts. Since then, the name has been, "The Park at MOA," a new name has not yet been chosen.
The mall also mentioned plans to build new rides that will coincide with their Nickelodeon theme. Possibilities are an upside down roller coaster based on the animated series, Avatar, and also a freefall tower, according to the Star Tribune.
This announcement comes amid the Mega-Mall's plans for a $1.9 billion expansion plan, according to the AP.

February 22, 2007

Killer Pleads Guilty in the Uptown Shooting

By Diane White

The accused killer in the Uptown murder, plead guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder charges.
Bill Ray Deshawn Johnson's plea assures that he will avoid serving a life sentence; his sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m., March 15, according to the Star Tribune.
Johnson took part in a robbery in the Uptown area in March 2006, where he shot and killed Michael Zebuhr, a grad student in town visiting his family.
Zebuhr was accompanied by his sister, mother, and another acquaintance at the time of the robbery. Although the group didn't resist the two robbers’ demands, Johnson shot Zebuhr in the head and he died two days after being shot, according to Kare11.
Donte Jacobs, the other robber, is set for trial on April 16, 2007, who allegedly drove the car.

A Man is Still Missing After Home Exploded

By Diane White

A home in Corcoran, Minn. exploded Wednesday morning, the home owner remains missing.
Dan and Pam Johnson and their 2-year-old son, had just moved into the home last month and were renovating it, according to the AP. The couple had smelled something unusual on Tuesday evening and realized their 1,000-gallon propane tank was empty. After they had it refilled, the smell still remained and the furnace was scheduled to be checked Wednesday.
Pam Johnson and her son left the home to spend the night away due to the smell, while Dan remained in the home, according to the Star Tribune. The two exchanged cell phone messages Wednesday morning, prior to the explosion, although it isn't definite that Dan was home at the time.
The Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the explosion.

February 17, 2007

Father Charged with Sexual Abuse

By Diane White

A Minnesota father, who set off an amber alert for allegedly taking his 14-year-old daughter, was charged Friday with repeatedly sexually assaulting two children.
Police found the child at the Mall of America Tuesday; 14 hours after the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension issued the Amber Alert, according to Kare11.
The father had allegedly been living at the Inver Grove Heights residence with the daughter, her four siblings and the girl's mother since Jan., according to the Star Tribune, although Michuda had a court order prohibiting him from having unsupervised visitation with his children.
If these accusations are proven, Michuda could face up to 30 or more years in prison, according to the Pioneer Press. He served 21 months on a previous conviction in Hennepin County 13 years ago, which also involved an alleged case of molestation of a minor.

February 16, 2007

One Fatality in a Crash on 35W

By Diane White

The southbound lanes of highway I-35W near Lino Lakes were closed Friday morning due to a fatal crash.
The crash involved a Nissan Murano and a tractor trailer, which carried telephone poles, according to Kare11. The state patrol said that early indications suggest the car crossed over the median, colliding head-on with the semi, according to WCCO. The accident caused the semi truck to roll over.
Although one person has been pronounced dead, it has not been made clear which vehicle they were traveling in. A State Patrol accident reconstruction team was on the scene until late Friday afternoon, according to the Star Tribune

February 9, 2007

A Boy Was in Real Danger of Dying

By Diane White

A father was jailed Thursday for allegedly leaving his 4-year-old son in the car while he went inside Mystic Lake Casino to gamble, police said.
It was early Thurs. morning when a casino visitor found the boy wandering around in the parking lot. According to the AP, temperatures were 7 degrees below zero with a minus-22 wind chill.
The child was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee, where doctors measured the boy's body temperature at 94.5 degrees, which is in the life-threatening range, according to the Star Tribune. He suffered from the first stage of hypothermia, defined when body temperature ranges between 96.8 and 91.4 Fahrenheit.
The boy was outside for over an hour, according to the AP. The father is expected to face charges Friday, including child endangerment and giving false information to authorities, after he allegedly provided a false name and birthdate to police that confronted him in the casino, according to Kare11.

February 8, 2007

Two More Deaths Resulted from the Flu

By Diane White

The death total reached three Thursday in Minn. after two more children died from influenza.
One of the children was 8-years-old and the other 17 months, according to the Star Tribune. Last week an 8-year-old Ramsey County boy died, the location of the other two children hasn't been specified except that one was from the Twin Cities metro area and the other from out-state Minnesota.
There have been 13 flu deaths so far this season, Minn. accounts for more than one-fifth of these, according to Kare11. All three children that died suffered from the A (H1) strain of the flu virus, which is preventable with the flu vaccine.
None of these children had the flu vaccine, and the Department of Health is urging parents to vaccinate their children, according to the Pioneer Press.

February 2, 2007

Police Chase on Highway 55

By Diane White

Around 2:30 a.m., Friday, police attempted to pull over a car in Eagan, Minn. near Argenta Trail and Highway 55, when the driver took off.
According to WCCO, police followed the driver, (a 42-year-old man from St. Paul) onto Highway 55, he eventually crashed into a guardrail near the intersection of Highway 55 and Highway 52. The car landed on the road below, and a passenger was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene according to Kare11.
The driver and another passenger (Stacy Buckanaga) were treated at Regions Hospital for non-life threatening injures. The driver is in police custody and has not yet been charged with any crime; therefore his name hasn't been released.
The driver had other run-ins with the police, according to the Star Tribune, past offenses included: speeding, careless driving, driving after revocation, drugs and robbery.

January 30, 2007

Minnesota State High School League brings wrestling to a halt

By Diane White

There have been 24 cases of Herpes Gladiatorum confirmed and state wrestling was delayed Tuesday, for eight days.
Wrestlers may still work out and condition according to WCCO, but will not be allowed to compete or make physical contact with other wrestlers. The State High School League hopes that the ban will prevent further transmission of this virus at the state tournament scheduled Feb.28 to March 3.
Officials first became aware of the outbreak in Dec., according to the Star Tribune, after a tournament held in Rochester. Since then, 10 teams have reported wrestlers with skin lesions of the face, chest and neck.
Wrestling is scheduled to resume on Feb. 6 and a conference will be held at 4:30 p.m., detailing the specifics of the suspension.