MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Charges upgraded in Willmar murder
WILLMAR, Minn. -- Charges have been upgraded for two of the three defendants in the murder of Lila Warwick of Willmar. 19-year-old Brok Junkermeier is accused of strangling the 79-year-old to death in her Willmar home during an attempted robbery in July. Lila's grandson, 17-year-old Robert Warwick, is accused of being the mastermind behind the robbery plot. A grand jury has now charged Junkermeier with 2 counts of 1st Degree Murder and 1 count of 2nd degree murder. Warwick had been charged as a juvenile, but is now facing trial in adult court on two counts of 1st Degree Murder. If convicted, Warwick and Junkermeier would face life in prison without parole. A third suspect, 16-year-old Devon Jenkins, still faces charges in juvenile court of 2nd Degree Murder.
Minnesota employers added over 12-thousand jobs in August lowering the state's unemployment rate to 5.1 percent. While the state's recovered all the jobs lost in the recession, there are still some sectors that continue to struggle, including manufacturing. St. Thomas University marketing Professor Dave Brennan says that is concerning. He says manufacturing jobs are typically higher paying and tied to exports. He says those two things make what we call an economic multiplier effect and may create one or two additional jobs. Just last month, manufacturing lost 34-hundred jobs across the state.
Prosecutors say the murder of a St. Paul woman was all about rage, jealousy, and deception by her husband in a marriage that was on the rocks. Testimony began yesterday in the trial of Jeffrey Trevino, who's charged with killing his wife Kira at their home in February. Ramsey County prosecutor Andrew Johnson told jurors that Kira wanted to separate -- but he didn't want to let her go. Johnson said over 150 small spots of blood evidence were found on the couple's bed. Defense lawyer John Conard said "less than a thimble" of Kira Steger Trevino's blood was found in the house. Kira's sister, two co-workers, and a waitress testified for the prosecution yesterday. They said Kira became unhappy with her marriage late last year -- and the waitress said the couple appeared "awkward" when she served them dinner the night Kira went missing in late February. Her body was found in early May in the Mississippi River. Her husband's trial is expected to run for at least two more weeks.
The former host of a western Minnesota show called "Safe Money Radio" has been charged with fraud in federal court after about two-dozen investors say he stole their life savings -- including an elderly person with dementia. Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Jeffrey Rodd's scam spanned more than three years. Under the annuity program, he promised returns of up to 60 percent within six months, and that the money was safe and easily accessible. Court documents show that the Redwood Falls man used the stolen money to buy airtime for his local radio program and to pay business and personal expenses -- including the purchase of two vehicles.
Momentum is building in the U.S. Congress to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minneapolis to protect the state's northern waters from invasive Asian carp. A House panel yesterday (Thu) decided to incorporate the lock closure into funding for ports and water projects. Industry groups say closure of the lock will hurt the region's economy and won't do much to stop the spread of Asian carp. Democrat Representatives Rick Nolan of Brainerd and Keith Ellison of Minneapolis have been pushing for the closure, and while Nolan admits that they aren't sure it will do anything to halt the invasive fish, "We sure feel like we have to try to do something." The carcass of a silver carp was found this summer at the base of a dam in Winona.
Fire broke out once again at the former Verso Paper mill in Sartell, in one of the buildings that has been sitting vacant since a fire and explosion on Memorial Day 2012 shut down operations and claimed the life of a Verso employee. At least four departments were called in to battle the blaze in the office above a loading dock. The property is now owned by AIM Development, which is working to demolish much of the site. Only a few buildings will remain. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The state's housing market closed out the summer of 2013 with another strong month in August. Chris Galler (GAL'-ur) of the Minnesota Association of Realtors says home prices, new listings and sales all increased last month. Closed sales were six-and-a-half percent and pending sales were up four percent. Galler says the market starts to slow down in September as kids are back in school and the weather begins to cool down. The median sales price rose 14.3 percent in August and new listings were up 12-and-a-half percent.