MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Little Falls homeowner guilty of killing teen burglars
LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- Byron Smith will spend the rest of his life in prison following his conviction yesterday in Little Falls for the shooting deaths of two teenagers who broke into his home. Jurors needed just three hours to return guilty verdicts on four murder charges. Washington County Attorney Peter Orput, the lead Prosecutor in the Smith case, says he left the courtroom with a great sense of sadness, saying, "We've got two dead kids, over nothing." Sheriff Michel Wetzel says the jury decided there are limits as to how far someone can go in protecting their home. Eighteen-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady were unarmed when they broke into Smith's home and were shot to death in the basement. On a recording played during the trial, Smith is heard saying he didn't see the intruders as human after shooting the two. Smith's attorney Steve Meshbesher told the judge that Smith plans to appeal.
The Welfare Rights Committee will be protesting Governor Dayton's State of the State Address tonight outside the Minnesota House chamber (Wed6:30pm). Members will display 28 tombstones to represent 28 years without a grant increase in the state's welfare program for poor children and parents. Organizer Linden Gawboy says the governor and legislators had a chance to raise welfare grants this year with a budget surplus, but instead gave tax breaks mostly to corporations and the well-to-do.
Minnesota Congressmen Tim Walz and Rick Nolan met with senior White House officials to highlight the importance of the renewable fuel standard. They expressed concern about an E-P-A proposal that would lower the amount of ethanol and biodiesel mandated under the R-F-S. Walz and Nolan say it plays a critical role as an alternative to foreign oil while benefiting local economies and creating jobs in rural communities. They are both members of the House Agriculture Committee.
A judge has turned down requests for reduced bail for a couple accused of collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in welfare payments while living the high life. Colin and Andrea Chisholm had hoped for a lowered bond so they could be freed until trial, but the requests were turned down. Also in court yesterday (Tue), the Hennepin County Attorney's Office motioned that Colin and Andrea be tried together, under the argument that they acted together in their welfare fraud scheme. Andrea Chisholm's attorney says she was actively trying to turn herself in when she and Colin were arrested by authorities and has asked that the trials be separate. The Chisholms face similar charges in Florida and Connecticut.
A White Earth man is facing nine federal child pornography charges. Court documents show 37-year-old Corey Bevins videotaped a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct on three occasions in 2012. Prosecutors also say Bevins received child pornographic videos several times between May 2012 and January 2013. Video files were discovered in his possession in January. The most serious of the charges could mean 30 years in prison if Bevins is convicted.
A Roseville massage therapist has been convicted of sexually assaulting a client last year. The jury deliberated for only an hour before finding 32-year-old Brandon Palmer guilty on two sexual misconduct charges. The criminal complaint states that Palmer pressed his genitals into the clients hand during a massage and rubbed her through her underwear for several minutes. Palmer's lawyer maintained that bad massage technique resulted in accidental touching. He is awaiting trial in six other cases where clients described similar behavior at Serene Body Therapy.
Today is the last day of what's become the second-wettest April on record in the Twin Cities. The total will get higher today after reaching six-point-11 inches as of yesterday afternoon. The record for the month is seven inches, and forecasters say topping that isn't likely.
A new beer made by veterans - and benefiting veterans - is hitting liquor store shelves in much of Minnesota tomorrow (Thursday). Veteran Beer Company spokesman Josh Ray says the company was started by disabled veterans, they only employ veterans, and 10 percent of net profits go to veteran charities. He says in 2012 Minnesota ranked third-highest in the country for veteran unemployment, and they're hoping to put a dent in that this summer. Ray says they bottle and brew their beer at the Third Street Brewhouse facility in Cold Spring. They launched their two lines of beer - Blonde Bomber Blonde Ale and Veteran Amber Lager - in November in Illinois and Indiana. The Veteran Beer Company is headquartered in Chicago.
Governor Dayton last night (Tues) signed into law a bill allowing on-line voter registration in Minnesota, just hours after the Senate passed the legislation. Newport Democrat Katie Sieben (SEE'-ben) says her bill increases accuracy in voter rolls, provides a convenience to voters, and makes it easier for absentee voters and military personnel overseas to participate in elections. Some Republicans voted "no", saying Democrats rejected every amendment to improve data security. Elbow Lake Senator Torrey Westrom pointed to the Target data breach and problems with MNsure, accusing Democrats of rushing the bill through, to try to save face for Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. A judge on Monday ruled Ritchie, who's not running for re-election, exceeded his authority by implementing on-line voter registration without the legislature's approval.
A medical marijuana bill has another state Capitol hearing today in the Senate Judiciary committee (Wed 12:30pm). It would allow seriously ill patients to use cannabis with a doctor's prescription. Republican Branden Petersen of Andover says a compromise the governor offered -- a study of C-B-D oil -- would make those who are suffering wait several years. A researcher from Colorado testified Tuesday that laboratories can control dosage and potency of medical marijuana. But state health officials say they have concerns about growing marijuana plants in dispensaries and the ability to track inventory.
Governor Dayton delivers his State of the State address tonight (7pm) at the Minnesota Capitol to a joint session of the Senate and House. Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt predicts the governor will talk about the state of his campaign and says the delay of the address "probably is a good indicator that this is his campaign kickoff." Dayton has been recovering from hip surgery and it's believed that factored into his decision to deliver the State of the State address much later than usual in the legislative session.
Items that could become future household objects might well be on display this weekend at the Invention Expo in Minneapolis. It's an opportunity for inventors to exhibit and receive feedback on their ideas and potentially secure licensing agreements -- plus the public can preview these latest creations. Director Deb Hess says there's a special category for young inventors and they usually steal the show. Inventors from all over the country will be there. The Invention Expo is Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center.