REGIONAL BRIEFS: Man pleads to charges in drunken driving crash that killed coach’s babyGLENWOOD, Minn. — A Starbuck man pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide charges stemming from a head-on collision in Pope County that killed a 5-month-old boy.
From the Forum Communications News Bureau
Another plea deal in synthetic drug case
FARGO -- All 11 people charged so far in the federal case alleging a synthetic drug conspiracy that killed two teens and injured a handful of others in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minn., have reached plea agreements with prosecutors.
On Wednesday, Steven Bucher pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute synthetic hallucinogens made by Andrew Spofford of Grand Forks from January 2011 until this past June.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson set Bucher’s sentencing for March 4.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers has charged 11 people in the case, saying it led to the deaths of Christian Bjerk, 18, of Grand Forks, and Elijah Stai, 17, of Park Rapids, Minn., in June. Myers says Spofford mixed the hallucinogens from chemicals he ordered from overseas and distributed them through several associates.
Spofford pleaded guilty last month, as have 10 of the 11. Next week, Casey Rosen is scheduled to plead guilty in an agreement with Myers, too.
Three of those charged already have been sentenced; a fourth is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
State warns of scam calls
BISMARCK – The North Dakota Attorney General’s Office is warning residents about a phishing scam in which phone users receive a recorded message stating that their bank account has been locked because of suspicious activity and that they should dial “1” to find out more information.
Some calls specifically name “Gate City Bank,” while others claim the suspicious activity relates to a Visa or MasterCard, according to a news release from the office’s Consumer Protection Division. The scam artists will change the name of the bank frequently, the release stated.
The scam is designed to trick people into giving out their account or credit card information so that the scam artist can empty the account or make fraudulent charges to the card, the release stated.
DSU, Mary form partnership
DICKINSON, N.D. -- In a rare public-private school partnership, Dickinson State University announced Tuesday that it will collaborate with the University of Mary to offer an assortment of advanced degrees.
DSU, which offers bachelor’s-level and associate degrees, will team with the Bismarck-based Catholic institution to provide students the opportunity to receive master’s degrees in business, nursing, education and counseling beginning in March.
In addition to the master’s opportunities at DSU, the schools also outlined a plan to explore the possibility of a “4+1 accelerated module” in which a student could earn a four-year degree from DSU and a master’s from U-Mary in five years, one less year than the standard six years needed to obtain a master’s-level degree.
(DP, filed Tuesday)
Man pleads to charges in drunken driving crash that killed coach’s baby
GLENWOOD, Minn. — A Starbuck man pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide charges stemming from a head-on collision in Pope County that killed a 5-month-old boy.
Dana Allen Schoen, 38, pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal vehicular homicide or operation for causing the July 28 motor vehicle crash. According to the Minnesota State Patrol and the complaint, a preliminary breath test, showed Schoen blood alcohol content of 0.351 percent, more than four times the legal limit.
The pleas were entered in Pope County District Court. Schoen will be sentenced Jan. 25.
The crash that killed Drake Bigler also injured the boy’s parents and great-grandmother. The boy’s father, Brad Bigler, is the men’s basketball coach at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
Man charged with attempted murder after high-speed chase
OLIVIA, Minn. — A Redwood Falls man is facing attempted murder charges after a high-speed chase Monday afternoon in Renville and Redwood counties.
Brian Noel Hester, 46, of Redwood Falls, was arraigned Wednesday morning in Renville County District Court in Olivia on two counts of attempted murder in the first degree, two counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, and single counts of fleeing a police officer, operating a motor vehicle under the influence and driving after cancellation.
Hester is being held in the Renville County Jail in Olivia. He was apprehended Monday in Redwood Falls when a Minnesota State Patrol trooper executed a maneuver to stop Hester’s pickup truck after a chase that began near Franklin and went through the city of Morton at speeds of 65 to 70 miles per hour, according to the complaint.
Hester allegedly rammed his pickup truck into a squad car while an officer sat in it, as well as pointed it directly at another deputy who had to dive out of the way to avoid being hit, according to the criminal charges.
Review denied for Diaz Evans
WILLMAR, Minn. — The Minnesota Supreme Court has denied a petition for further review from Leroy Diaz Evans, the 28-year-old Willmar man sentenced to prison for more than 25 years on multiple charges for his role in a September 2010 incident that included two home invasions and shots fired at Willmar police officers.
The denial was issued on the court’s website last week. In September, the state Court of Appeals affirmed Diaz Evans’ conviction and sentencing in May 2011 to 308 months in prison.
Diaz Evans was the third and final defendant sentenced for the Sept. 15, 2010, incident at a home near the Subway restaurant parking lot in Willmar.
A jury found Diaz Evans guilty in March 2011 of eight of the nine felony charges against him. He was acquitted of the most serious charge, first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, but was found guilty of use of deadly force against a peace officer and guilty of seven first-degree burglary and aggravated robbery charges. The jury also determined that Diaz Evans is a danger to public safety, an aggravated factor in his sentencing.