Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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A New Richmond man accused of attempting to kill his mother pleaded guilty this week to two charges in the case. Omar Martinez, 26, pleaded guilty July 30 in St. Croix County Circuit Court to first-degree recklessly endangering safety and battery by use of a dangerous weapon. The most serious count, first-degree attempted homicide, was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Two sex-related cases led to prison time for defendants last month in St. Croix County. Former Somerset resident Jennifer Bowers was sentenced June 26 to three years in prison and seven years on extended supervision. The 44-year-old pleaded guilty in March to one count of child enticement involving sexual contact.
A New Richmond-area man was arrested Thursday after a live pipe bomb was discovered at a Baldwin business. St. Croix County Sheriff's Office Lt. Brent Standaert said the item was reported just before 11 a.m. July 26 at the auction company Smith Sales, where it was found among items brought in by a woman. Deputies learned the Polk County woman was unaware there was an explosive device among the items she brought in to have auctioned off.
ELLSWORTH — Michaela Sousa faced stiff headwinds going into her sentencing hearing Tuesday in Pierce County Circuit Court. The 26-year-old had skipped out of two trials charging her with felony child abuse, the second of which ended in February with a guilty verdict and an empty defendant's chair. The unusual circumstances of her trial marked an apparent flight pattern that included Sousa running from police upon learning she was being arrested in 2016 after her daughter was found with serious head injuries.
A Black River Falls man serving jail time for a child support offense faces a new charge after allegedly being found with methamphetamine inside the St. Croix County jail. Robert A. Wilkinson made his initial court appearance Thursday, July 19, on one count of meth possession near certain places. The modifier requires defendants to perform 100 hours of community service if convicted. Jailers reported finding Wilkinson with two items of meth last month during a shakedown prompted by a jailhouse informant.
As Nicki Adeladel lost consciousness, she was resolved to the likelihood that the horrific town of Hudson crash she'd endured would end her life. That's why it was vital for her to see her mother's face when she came to. "It helped me to know I was alive," the St. Paul woman said. "I was expecting to see the deceased family members." Adeladel wasn't the only one who feared the worst. The July 10, 2017, crash on Trout Brook Road left Adeladel stranded for at least five hours with injuries so severe that her legs needed multiple surgeries and her arm had to be amputated.
A River Falls man was seriously injured Tuesday morning after the motorcycle he was driving was struck by a pickup truck in Hudson. Hudson police said the motorcyclist, whose identity wasn't immediately available, sustained severe leg injuries in the crash, which occurred just before 8 a.m. on Carmichael Road. Police said the pickup driver, a Hudson man, was southbound on Carmichael Road turning onto the eastbound Interstate 94 on ramp when it struck the motorcycle, which was northbound on Carmichael. The motorcyclist was taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
NEW RICHMOND — There is little doubt time is running out on the Lowrey Hotel. The inn, which caters to low-income renters whose struggles often involve addiction and criminal activity, is facing an Aug. 31 expiration on its lease. After that, the tenants, whose legal and financial status often create barriers to affordable housing, will be left with few options. Lowrey owner Stacy Wright said she has worked for years to earn the trust — not just of community leaders, but also of her tenants — and is saddened to see what Sept. 1 will bring.
A St. Croix County judge told a chronic drunk driver this week that decisions made during his next prison stint will likely determine how much longer he'll continue wearing a jail uniform. "If you don't change, sir, you're going to be in orange for the rest of your life," Judge Edward Vlack said Tuesday, July 17, while sentencing Roberts resident Shawn A. Harstad.
Mahlon Mitchell isn't fazed by the fact he's never held public office. In fact, the Fitchburg resident said he sees it as an advantage as he makes his bid to be Wisconsin's next governor. "We have had enough political pundits" and career politicians in Madison, the 41-year-old said last week in a RiverTown Multimedia interview.