REGIONAL BRIEFS: Suspect in Superior killing held without bail
Credit Forum News Service
Eight felonies filed in Wahpeton attack
WAHPETON, N.D. -- A 20-year-old man accused of attacking a store clerk here Wednesday was charged Friday with eight felonies.
Christopher Brent Yellow Earrings of Wahpeton was charged in Richland County District Court with six counts of felonious restraint along with one count each of reckless endangerment and preventing arrest.
All eight charges are Class C felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
According to court documents, Yellow Earrings entered the Family Dollar store on Dakota Avenue around 8 p.m. and forced six people into a back room, threatening them with a scissors and blocking the door to prevent them from leaving.
When police arrived, they found the store clerk on the floor and Yellow Earrings trying to saw at her neck with a scissors, the complaint said. Officers used a stun gun on Yellow Earrings before arresting him, documents said.
Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson said one officer received minor injuries from the scuffle.
An attorney was not yet listed for Yellow Earrings, but Richland County State's Attorney Ron McBeth said Yellow Earrings requested a public defender Friday afternoon.
Cash bail was set at $50,000 cash.
House fire kills two people in Park River
PARK RIVER, N.D. -- Two people died in a house fire Thursday night in Park River.
The Walsh County Sheriff's Department identified the victims as Margaret Winther, 83, and her husband, Norman Winther, 89, owners and residents of the house at 119 Regina Ave.
The fire, which was reported at 10:23 p.m., is believed to have started with a malfunction in a water heater, which ignited combustible materials beside the heater, according to Sheriff Lauren Wild.
The fire was extinguished by Park River Fire Department. Walsh County Sheriff's Department and Park River Ambulance also assisted at the scene.
A North Dakota state fire marshal is investigating the fire.
First five months of 2013 Fargo's wettest on record
FARGO -- The first five months of this year were the wettest on record in Fargo.
By Friday, 12.8 inches of precipitation had fallen in Fargo since Jan. 1, beating the former record of 12.62 inches set in the first five months of 1902, said Mark Ewens, climate forecaster for the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.
Over a third of that fell Wednesday night and Thursday morning, when a storm system dumped 4.51 inches on Fargo. Another two-tenths of an inch came in sprinkles throughout Thursday, weather service meteorologist Bill Barrett said.
It all adds up to make the meteorological spring here this year - March, April and May - the second wettest on record, Ewens said, with 10.61 inches just across those three months. That record was again set in 1902 with 11.44 inches. The numbers this spring could still change, with numbers from Friday not totally tallied, Ewens said.
Improving lake levels good news for shipping industry
DULUTH -- The level of Lake Superior jumped 9 inches in May, more than twice the normal monthly increase and the second most for any month since 1918.
The lake usually rises only about 4 inches each May. But thanks to late snow and a cold spring that held back runoff until ice and snow melted, May more than made up for the difference.
The lake now sits just 7 inches below its long-term average for June 1 but is a full 3 inches above its level at this time last year, the International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Friday.
Meanwhile, Lakes Huron and Michigan continued their meteoric rise from near record lows in late winter. The lakes rose another 5 inches in May, compared to the usual 3 inches for the month. The lakes remain 20 inches below the long-term average, but Huron and Michigan are recovering from seasonal, winter lows at among their fastest pace ever.
The improving lake level conditions are good news not just for recreational boaters but also for Great Lakes shipping industry. Many of the lakes' largest freighters have had to transit the lakes with less than full loads, increasing prices and energy use and raising costs for raw material shippers such as taconite plants.
State high court sides with city in rental inspection case
RED WING, Minn. -- Minnesota's highest court says Red Wing's rental inspection ordinance is not unconstitutional on its face.
In an opinion issued Friday, the court said for it to rule the ordinance unconstitutional at this point, "appellants must demonstrate that every warrant to conduct an (inspection) will be issued without individualized suspicion."
Under the city's ordinance, rental housing inspectors can apply for administrative warrants from a judge to enter properties if landlords or tenants refuse initial inspections.
The Institute for Justice, a law firm representing nine landlords and two tenants challenging the ordinance, has argued that provision violates the right to privacy and to be free from "unreasonable searches."
The justices said the ordinance can be applied constitutionally because a judge could require the city to bring forth evidence to issue a warrant.
The Institute for Justice attorneys did not prove the ordinance is unconstitutional in all applications, the court ruled, which is required at this point since the city has not obtained any administrative warrants. The city has unsuccessfully sought a handful of them in the past.
Attorney John Baker, representing the city of Red Wing, told justices in February that inspections are needed for public safety and health reasons, among others.
DNR study shows wetland acreage stable, quality down
DULUTH -- Minnesota is holding on to more of its wetlands, but the quality of those wetlands may be diminishing, according to a study released Friday.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources called its report the state's first scientific assessment of wetland gain versus loss.
Wetlands are considered critical for fish and wildlife habitat, to hold back floods and filter water, often at the headwaters of sources for drinking water and recreational waters. But increased prices for farm crops and development pressures near urban areas continue to eat away at original wetlands.
The report found that, from 2006 through 2011, Minnesota gained 2,080 wetlands across the state, or a 0.02 percent gain.
But during that same period, 1,890 acres of emergent wetlands (such as marshes and wet meadows) were converted into cultivated wetlands, mostly for farming, reducing their value to wildlife and for flood prevention, essentially offsetting the overall gain. The DNR notes that while cultivated wetlands retain some wetland characteristics, they often have undergone significant drainage and lack vegetation that provides good wildlife habitat.
The findings were based on nearly 5,000 randomly selected one-square-mile plots that were assessed using aerial photos for the period 2006-08, then again for the period 2009-11.
Holloway woman killed in two-vehicle crash
MONTEVIDEO, Minn. -- A 75-year-old Holloway woman was killed Thursday in a two-vehicle crash at County Road 15 and U.S. Highway 59/State Highway 7.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Joan M. Arnold was a passenger in a 2013 Chrysler van driven by her husband, Vernon Arnold, 82, of Holloway. The van was southbound on the highway about 5:45 p.m. and turned left in front of a northbound 2007 Ford pickup driven by Reid A. Griess, 30, of Watson, causing the vehicles to collide.
Griess was not injured. Vernon Arnold was taken to Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital.
Also responding were the Chippewa County Sheriff's Office and Montevideo police, fire and ambulance personnel.
Body of second teen found in river
HAMMOND, Wis. -- The second body of two St. Croix Central High School students who jumped from the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis has been located.
The body of Erika Borgstrom, 16, was found Wednesday near the Picnic Island Canoe Landing on the Minnesota River near Fort Snelling.
The body of Dakotah Coach, 18, was found in the Mississippi River on May 21.
The teens disappeared from the Roberts-Hammond area around May 10 and were seen jumping from the bridge together just before dawn May 14.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled both deaths as suicides.
Suspect in Superior killing held without bail
SUPERIOR, Wis. -- A Douglas County judge on Friday granted a prosecutor's request that an Arizona man accused of, in essence, a domestic execution be held in jail without bail pending further court proceedings.
Juan Leonardo Padilla, 41, of Fort Mohave, Ariz., made his initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the May 23 slaying of Terence Rodney Luukkonen, 46, of Duluth. The defendant faces a life prison sentence if convicted.
Luukkonen was sitting in the driver's seat of his car in the parking lot of Genesis Attachments in Superior, where he worked as a purchasing director, when he was shot in the head. He was pronounced dead at a Duluth hospital.
Luukkonen's fiancée identified Padilla as a possible suspect. The woman told police that about a month ago she told Padilla she was breaking off her relationship with him to be with Luukkonen, and that Padilla was upset.
Northwestern Wisconsin Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O'Neill Jr. is representing Padilla. O'Neill waived formal reading of the criminal complaint Friday and asked Judge George Glonek to schedule a preliminary hearing, which will be held June 19.
Glitch sends erroneous emails on bighorn sheep licenses
PIERRE, S.D. -- About 2,000 applicants for a South Dakota bighorn sheep hunting license were incorrectly notified that they had drawn a license.
An incorrect computer file was downloaded, resulting in license applicants who provided an email address being notified that they had been drawn for a 2013 bighorn sheep license, according to a news release from the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Before the error was discovered, emails were already in the process of being sent.
The error was detected about halfway through the notification process, and within 30 minutes a corrected email was sent notifying applicants they had been unsuccessful.
There were no errors in the draw process itself, and there is no need for a redrawing. Two licenses were issued, and those applicants will be contacted by phone confirming their success in the drawing. No unsuccessful applicant was charged the license fee.
Shon Eide, license office supervisor for the department, said in the release that all protocols for email notifications will be examined to safeguard against future errors.