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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: National Guard unit deploys for Afghanistan

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news Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

A Minnesota National Guard unit will soon begin a dangerous assignment in Afghanistan. Ninety-five members of the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company left Litchfield yesterday (Sun) for a one-year tour of duty. Their job will be to clear roads of improvised explosive devices. Captain Matt Jukkala says the troops are prepared and their number-one goal is bringing everybody home in the exact condition in which they left. Almost four-of-every-five soldiers are making their first overseas deployments. The unit is training at Fort Bliss in Texas before heading to Afghanistan. They're due back next summer. They represent 28 communities, including New Richmond.

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Nicole Beecroft gave birth to a baby girl on the floor of her home in Oakdale in April 2007, stabbed the newborn, and put the body in the trash. She was 17-years-old at the time, and was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. But last year her conviction and sentence were thrown out, and the now-24-year-old's retrial starts today (Mon). Beecroft rejected a plea deal and also waived her right to a jury trial. She maintains that the baby was stillborn. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed Beecroft's conviction because they believe the actions of state officials interfered with Beecroft's right to present a complete defense. 

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A Sunday morning home explosion in Minneapolis remains under investigation. Neighbors say there was a loud boom and the windows of the house blew out before a fire began. Investigators say the fire started in the basement, where old ammunition was stored. The cause is still being investigated, and a woman who was in the home received only minor injuries. 

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Another motorcyclist was killed in Minnesota over the weekend, bringing the total number of motorcycle fatalities so far this season to nearly 30. Polk County Sheriff's investigators say 47-year-old Eric Erickson's bike left County Road 4 near Lengby and rolled several times into the ditch. The Erskine man was thrown from the bike and pronounced dead at the scene. 

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A deadly shooting is under investigation in north Minneapolis. Officers were called to the area of 34th Avenue and Fremont Avenue North where they found the victim lying on sidewalk after he was shot during an argument. The victim was taken to a hospital where he died yesterday (Sun) morning. No arrests have been made. 

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