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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Shooter's parents get custody of girl orphaned in murder-suicide

Credit: Forum News Service

North Dakota

Man gets nine years for assaulting boys, setting fire

FARGO - A Fort Totten man who admitted to beating two young boys and setting fire to the bedroom where they slept offered a tearful apology in court Wednesday, saying he was hallucinating at the time.

"I do not ask the family to forgive me, because I wouldn't be able to forgive me," 30-year-old Lyndon Greybear said in Cass County District Court.

During an emotional hearing, Judge John Irby sentenced Greybear to nine years in prison and four years of supervised probation. He received credit for 416 days in jail.

Greybear pleaded guilty in October to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of endangering by fire or explosion. Two attempted murder charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

He and his girlfriend were visiting his female cousin in Fargo on Nov. 13, 2011, when the two women left the apartment, leaving Greybear in charge of the 4- and 6-year-old boys.

During Greybear's plea hearing, prosecutor Leah Viste described how he beat the children, urinated on them, grabbed them by the throat and threw them in the closet in the bedroom of the third-floor apartment and lit fires.

Two psychological evaluations indicated Greybear suffered a psychotic episode brought on by intoxication, and he had no significant memory of the event, attorneys said.


Fort Totten man sentenced for assaulting police chief

FARGO -- Brandt Richard Yankton, 24, of Fort Totten, N.D., has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for assaulting a federal officer resulting in bodily harm, according to U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon on Thursday.

Yankton pleaded guilty Aug. 27 to biting the forearm of police Chief Raymond Cavanaugh of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

The chief was trying to arrest Yankton for a traffic violation in April 2012. The injury left a permanent scar.

Yankton also goes by the surname Jetty.


Woman airlifted after rollover stops traffic on I-29

GRANDIN, N.D. - A Fargo woman was injured and airlifted to a nearby hospital in a rollover crash near here Wednesday that stopped traffic on Interstate 29 for nearly 30 minutes.

According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Shanda Bischoff, 20, was driving northbound on I-29 near mile marker 88 at around 1:20 p.m. when her vehicle began to drift. She overcorrected and rolled her vehicle.

Sgt. Dave Wolf said the damage from the rollover pinned Bischoff inside her car, and once she was extracted, she was airlifted to a Fargo hospital. Wolf said her injuries weren't considered life-threatening.

"She was conscious in the vehicle and alert," he said.

Northbound I-29 traffic was blocked for about 30 minutes while the helicopter landed, Wolf said. He said road conditions were dry and clear at the time.


Man gets 3 days in jail for mistreating dogs

FARGO - A West Fargo man accused of keeping two dogs in a sometimes sweltering garage littered with feces without food and water for more than two weeks was sentenced Wednesday to three days in jail and 15 hours of community service.

Jason Weisgerber's attorney entered a guilty plea on his behalf to a misdemeanor charge of depriving an animal of necessary food and water.

Weisgerber, 25, did not appear in court. Judge John Irby said he wished Weisgerber had been there to explain his actions.

"The animals obviously suffered from his actions, which were callous," said Irby, who added the community service to the sentence recommended by attorneys.

Police seized the dogs on June 4, and the court granted the prosecution's motion to award custody of the animals to the state.

One of the dogs has been placed with a new owner; the other was euthanized, Assistant State's Attorney Tanya Johnson Martinez said. She said West Fargo police went "above and beyond" in getting a search warrant for the garage so they could remove the dogs.

In addition to the jail time and community service, Weisgerber must pay a $300 fee and restitution that's yet to be determined. He will be on unsupervised probation for 360 days.



Shooter's parents get custody of girl orphaned in murder-suicide

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. - A bitter custody battle between the families of a teenage boy and the girlfriend he killed in a murder-suicide, orphaning their infant daughter, ended this week when a judge awarded custody of the child to the boy's parents.

Judge Wally Senyk issued the order Monday in Otter Tail County District Court, giving Darrin and Catherine Cox sole legal and physical custody of their granddaughter, Emma.

The couple sought custody of Emma after their son, 17-year-old Dylan Cox, shot and killed his 16-year-old girlfriend, Tabitha Belmonte, before turning the gun on himself.

The teenagers and their baby were living with the Coxes in Amor when the shooting happened March 21, 2011. The Coxes were granted temporary custody of the girl eight days later.

Tabitha's mother, Bobbi Teeple, also sought custody of the child. Senyk denied her petition but granted her visitation rights.

The Coxes have been Emma's primary caretakers since she returned from the hospital after her birth, the judge noted. "Bobbi Teeple chose not to be present in (Emma's) life until after Tabitha died in March of 2011," Senyk wrote in his order.


Conditions of 3 explosion victims better

DULUTH -- Three of the five people burned in the ice-fishing house explosion Sunday morning along Lake of the Woods have improved.

According to Kim Kaiser at Essentia Health in Duluth, where the men are being treated, Rodney Bolstad, 51, Hillsboro, N.D., has been upgraded from critical to fair condition; Jacob Bolstad, 28, East Grand Forks, Minn., has improved from critical condition to serious condition; and Joel Bolstad, 19, Hillsboro, has improved from serious to fair condition.

William Huotari, Fargo, remained in critical condition Wednesday afternoon, and Al Stokke, also of Fargo, remained in fair condition.

The five were injured at about 8 a.m. Sunday in an apparent propane explosion in a private ice-fishing house on the lake shore at Zippel Bay, north of Williams, Minn.

The blast blew out some windows and resulted in burn damage to about 50 percent of the structure, according to Lake of the Woods County Sheriff Gary Fish.


Wolf season ending today

DULUTH -- With the Minnesota wolf harvest approaching the limit of 400 animals killed, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials announced Wednesday that they'll close the season at the end of hunting and trapping today.

The only remaining zone open through today is the Northwest Zone, where the harvest had reached 181 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist in Grand Rapids. The target harvest for that zone is 187.

The overall harvest for all zones and for both the early and late seasons stood at 395 on Wednesday afternoon, and the target harvest is 400.

Communication with hunters and trappers in the late season was hindered Tuesday and early Wednesday by a computer malfunction. The hotline that hunters and trappers were required to call before going afield said the season had closed in the Northwest Zone, when actually it had not. DNR officials suspect the erroneous recording was prompted by the change to the new year, said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR regional wildlife manager in Grand Rapids.