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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Inmate strangled at Oak Park Heights facility

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Pierce County Herald
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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

OAK PARK HEIGHTS, Minn. -- The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating after an inmate was strangled in his prison cell at the state Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights. The medical examiner has ruled the death of 30-year-old Shane Cooper a homicide. The state Public Safety Department says a surveillance camera caught another inmate entering Cooper's cell shortly before he was found dead. The 39-year-old man is the sole suspect in Cooper's death. Cooper was convicted last year of raping a child under the age of 13 in Duluth.

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A winter storm is settling in across Minnesota with a couple inches expected in the south, increasing to around 8 inches as you move into central Minnesota -- while the Arrowhead, still digging out from yesterday's (Tues) dumping, could get another 12 to 18 inches. Winds will pick up this afternoon, and then the mercury plummets, says National Weather Service meteorologist Tony Zaleski. Lows tomorrow morning (Thurs) will be close to zero across the western half of the state. And Zaleski says Friday morning, expect tempertures from 10- to 12-below across the northwest, with single digits below zero in much of the rest of Minnesota.

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The Minnesota State Patrol is reminding motorists to adjust their driving habits with fresh snow and ice that's deteriorating road conditions. Lieutenant Eric Roeske says allow yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination, reduce your speed, and wear your seatbelt no matter what the conditions. Roeske says it's also important to make sure your vehicle is running well and has good tires. There have been at least four fatal crashes in Minnesota since Monday afternoon.

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Two Minneapolis police officers involved in a fight with a group of African American men in Green Bay last year have been terminated. Police Chief Janee Harteau fired officers Brian Thole and Shawn Powell, who are both white. The officers had been on paid leave since the summer. Thole and Powell also are accused of using racial slurs and berating officers who were investigating the fight.

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A Richfield woman is now charged with second-degree murder for a brutal attack on her husband on Sunday. Forty-year-old Amerya Shefa is accused of stabbing her husband 30 times during an argument. Court documents indicate she told nurses at Hennepin County Medical Center that she killed Habibi Tesema because she was upset about his drinking and drug use. Shefa later told police she stabbed the 48-year-old man because he wanted to have a threesome, with another woman joining them.

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A Minnesota Senate panel is on a three-day tour of southeastern Minnesota, hearing pitches from communities that want state bonding dollars for public works projects. Later today (530pm) they'll hear a presentation on the proposed Mayo Civic Center expansion in Rochester. Senate Capital Investment Committee Chairman Leroy Stumpf says it "would be nice" if Rochester, Saint Cloud and Mankato -- which have repeatedly requested funding for their convention centers -- would receive state bonding dollars. Stumpf says that doesn't mean it will absolutely happen yet, but says

"we're probably in a position as close as we ever have been, to actually making that happen."

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Salvation Army Captain Jim Brickson is at an Albert Lea shopping mall, trying to break a bell-ringing record. He must keep ringing until just after 11 o'clock tonight (Wed) to break the state record of 36 hours -- but Brickson is going for the world record of 80 hours, which would be 7 p-m Friday night. Brickson says a Salvation Army captain in Compton, California is also competing to break the world record for bell-ringing.

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A hearing will be held next Tuesday at the state capitol over a spike in assaults near or on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Senator Terri Bonoff will hold the hearing and will invite police and officials from Twin Cities schools along with U of M officials. The Minnesota Student Association will hold a phone bank and letter writing campaign tomorrow urging students to contact local government representatives to push for more lights and police near campus.

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 After the Anoka County Sheriff's Department asked anyone who may have been victimized by a 44-year-old Ramsey man charged with criminal sexual conduct after he was accused of assaulting young boys to come forward, four more young men have accused Chad Geyen of molesting them. Investigators say Geyen has been assaulting boys younger than 13 since the mid-1990's, and met one victim while serving as a mentor with the Big Brother program. That victim served as the ring bearer in Geyen's wedding and claims he also saw the man assault his cousin. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that police have not yet released the specifics of the new allegations.

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 Congressional aides have confirmed the four principal farm bill negotiators, including Minnesota U-S Representative Collin Peterson, will meet privately today (Wednesday) - even though the Senate is not in session this week. The House is in session this week. If a farm bill isn't passed before the year ends, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA will be prepared and implement the 1938 and 1949 permanent farm laws in an expeditious way He says USDA will do what it has to - what the law requires. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Tim Walz also serve on the conference committee.

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Texas bilionaire B.J. McCombs and a business partner are on the hook for millions of dollars after losing a U.S. Supreme Court case. The court yesterday (Tue) ruled the two were part of a sham tax shelter and the IRS could hit them with a 40-percent tax penalty. The former Minnesota Vikings owner and partner Gary Woods participated in a tax shelter designed to generate huge paper losses to reduce their taxable income in 1999. The IRS audited them for unpaid taxes and hit them with the penalty.

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