REGIONAL BRIEFS: Men accused of race-related attackDULUTH -- Three men from the Minnesota Iron Range have been charged with fourth-degree assault after an investigation of a year-old race-related incident in Virginia, Minn.
Credit: Forum Communications
Former minister convicted in child sex case
PARK RAPIDS – A former minister in Cass Lake and Lake George was convicted Thursday after a jury found him guilty of six sex crimes involving a child.
A Hubbard County jury found Darwin Frederick Schauer, 71, of Laporte, guilty on six charges after a trial this week.
Schauer sexually assaulted his victim during a three-year period, starting in spring 2009.
The jury of eight women and four men finished deliberating Thursday, returning guilty verdicts against Schauer for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. All the charges related to contact with a minor at least 13 years old, but less than 18, while Schauer was in a position of authority.
Men accused of race-related attack
DULUTH -- Three men from the Minnesota Iron Range have been charged with fourth-degree assault after an investigation of a year-old race-related incident in Virginia, Minn.
Gerald William Meagher Jr., 34, of Virginia; Chad James Stevens, 23, of Mountain Iron; and Lee Scott Randall, 23, of Aurora, were charged in the assault of a couple in the early-morning hours of Nov. 3, 2011.
The complaint in the case states that the three men harassed the couple while passing them in a pickup truck as the two stood along a street. The report says the men targeted the male for his race, using racial epithets.
The men are accused of later stopping the truck driven by Randall and attacking the couple, punching the woman and punching and kicking the male. Police were called at 2:28 a.m.
A hat and cell phone left at the scene led police to Stevens, and he was identified by the female victim in a police lineup.
The fourth-degree assault charge is a gross misdemeanor and the attack was characterized as based on the male’s race, making it a bias crime, also known as a hate crime.
The police report says the men admitted to fighting with the couple.
Man sentenced for Walker murder
WALKER, Minn. – A 21-year-old Walker man has been ordered to spend 18 years in prison for fatally stabbing a man here last spring.
Sheldon James Smith received the sentence earlier this week from Judge John Smith.
Previously, Sheldon Smith entered a guilty plea to second-degree intentional murder.
On March 21, Jason Dale Howard, 22, of Walker, died after he was transported to a Brainerd hospital with a stab wound to his upper chest.
A criminal complaint filed in the case said Sheldon Smith stabbed the victim during an encounter between two groups of individuals and then fled the scene with his companions. The complaint also said the two groups had fought previously.
High-speed chase in Alexandria ends with crash
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- A woman led Alexandria police on a brief high-speed chase Tuesday night that ended when she crashed into two vehicles.
No one was seriously injured in the crash.
Just after 8 p.m., an officer stopped Talia Rae Hoffman, 21, for a burned-out taillight. Hoffman sped off and the officer briefly pursued her vehicle, but the pursuit was called off. Then, the officer saw the suspect drive up into a yard and she nearly hit the squad car driving back out onto the street, according to police. The pursuit started again.
Speeds during the chase reportedly reached up to 60 miles per hour on Nokomis Street -- a stretch of road with a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit.
After colliding with two cars, Hoffman was arrested and booked into the Douglas County Jail.
She is charged with fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, possession of fifth-degree controlled substance, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of a damage to property accident. She also had a felony warrant for failure to appear in court.
Man pleads guilty to child porn charge
MADISON, Wis. – A Superior man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to possessing child pornography on his home computer in December 2011.
Samuel W. Dewitt, 40, faces maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, lifetime supervised release and restitution to identified victims at his Jan. 23 sentencing before District Judge William Conley.
Investigators executed a search at Dewitt’s Ogden Avenue residence on Dec. 11 and seized a computer that contained video depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman.
Dewitt confessed to investigators that he downloaded child pornography from the Internet which he knew was unlawful to possess, Altman said.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the government will dismiss a pornography distribution charge against Dewitt and recommend a reduced sentence for accepting responsibility for his criminal conduct.
Task force captures fugitive in Fargo
FARGO – A man wanted by the High Plains Fugitive Task Force was arrested here early Thursday by task force members.
Brock Phillip Turnquist, 38, was arrested on a felony warrant out of Anoka County, Minn., on charges of drug possession, and a felony warrant issued by the Minnesota Department of Corrections alleging Turnquist violated conditions of release from a state correctional facility in Faribault, according to a statement released by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Turnquist had been serving time for first-degree sale of methamphetamine, the Marshals Service said.
Turnquist is being held in the Cass County Jail awaiting extradition proceedings.