MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Two charged with first degree murder in student's stabbing death
ROSEMOUNT, Minn. -- Two people suspected of killing a 20-year-old University of Minnesota student last year are now facing much stiffer charges, after a grand jury indicted 32-year-old Shavelle Chavez Nelson and 24-year-old Ashley Conrade for first-degree murder. They had previously been charged with second-degree murder in the September 2013 stabbing death of AnnaRae Schunk. Nelson is in the Stillwater prison on an unrelated burglary charge but is also charged with shooting 23-year-old Palagor Jobi to death after an argument outside Nina's Bar & Grill in Burnsville on the same night police believe Schunk was killed. Conrade is charged with aiding and abetting in that case. County Attorney Jim Backstrom says Schunk was likely stabbed more than 20 times at Conrade's Rosemount townhouse before her body was dumped in a ditch in Rice County.
Spirited reaction across the state after a federal jury awarded 1.8 million dollars to former Governor Jesse Ventura in his defamation lawsuit against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle. Ventura's lawyer said after the verdict his client's reputation has been permanently damaged. But long-time Ventura critic and candidate for governor Leslie Davis disagrees, pointing to Ventura's book on the Kennedy assassination and his "Off the Grid" show on Larry King's T-V network. Davis says Ventura "made a fortune" on those ventures, but yet claims he lost income because of Kyle's book. Davis acknowledges the "American Sniper" account might have hurt Ventura's reputation among Navy SEALs, but Davis adds Ventura "was never a SEAL anyway."
Former Minnesota Twins star Chuck Knoblauch will be in court today. The 46-year-old was arrested last week after he was accused of assaulting his ex-wife. That prompted the Twins to cancel next month's induction ceremony for Knoblauch into the team's Hall of Fame. The four-time All-Star and former American League Rookie of the Year was convicted of hitting a previous wife in 2010. He received a year of probation for that offense
A Minnesota activist is receiving support after claims he was physically attacked by police officers. Minneapolis Police say Al Flowers was arrested Saturday on charges of assaulting an officer at his home. Flowers says it was the other way around, claiming he was dragged out of his home and slammed on his head. He and other community activists held a meeting at the Minneapolis Urban League yesterday, with Flowers saying he is going to fight the charges.
A bill the Minnesota Legislature passed this spring to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers is now on federal lawmakers' agenda, as a key U-S Senate committee has a hearing on Senator Amy Klobuchar's bill today (Wed). Diane Sellgren with Protect Minnesota says there are only six states that currently have the law -- all passed in 2014 -- and it's very important to save lives that it also becomes a federal law. Minnesota law prohibits a person from possessing a gun if there's a protection order against them for domestic abuse or child abuse.
Two of the four Republican hopefuls for Minnesota governor are sparring over how they'd handle the state budget if elected. Rival Scott Honour criticizes GOP-endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson for indicating dramatic budget changes probably won't be possible until about two years into his administration. Honour says the state has to "get beyond tinkering around the margins or waiting until 'later'." Johnson responds Honour's pledge to immediately cut the budget ten percent across the board isn't realistic, given the Minnesota Senate will still be controlled by Democrats. Johnson says candidates can promise the world, but he likes to be straightforward and honest with people.
It's long been a cornerstone of the Minnesota economy, but those wanting to get a start in agriculture often hit one barrier after another. To help beginning farmers find opportunities and navigate the system, the Land Stewardship Project offers various training sessions with the latest round of classes set to begin this fall. Spokesman Nick Olson says offerings range from a one-time, four-hour "farm dreams" workshop to a beginning farmer training program that runs for 12 months. Olson says for beginning farmers and ranchers, challenges include access to capital and affordable land, as price per acre has risen steadily in Minnesota.
A Minnesota lawmaker is pleased with the confirmation of former Proctor and Gamble CEO and West Point graduate Robert McDonald as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Representative Tim Walz, the highest ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress, believes veterans need a leader that will take a hands-on, no-nonsense approach in order to change the culture at VA - and that McDonald is, "the right person for the job." The VA reform legislation worked on by Representative Walz and the joint House and Senate conference committee is expected to receive a vote on the House floor today (Wed).
A Minneapolis teen is being accused of killing a man following an argument on a bus. Andrew Billingsley Jr. was shot and killed in the parking lot of a gas station on Penn Avenue North. Police say it happened after an argument broke out between the 38-year-old and a group of people on a Metro Transit bus. The alleged shooter, 16-year-old Joshua Davis Ford, has been charged with second-degree murder. Witnesses say Ford was still on the bus when he was shooting at the victim.
A 19-year-old Minnesota man has plead guilty to taking part in a violent meth ring and maintaining a drug house in St.Paul. U.S. Attorney Luger says Antonio Navarro and three codefendants flew from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, kidnapped two victims at gunpoint, held them captive, beat them, and threatened the lives of the captives and their families. Luger calls the case, "A powerful example of the violent tactics of drug traffickers," and says his office remains committed to stopping the illegal flow of drugs into Minnesota and aggressively prosecuting the violent crimes that often come with it. Jesus Ramirez and Jonatan Alvarez are awaiting their next court date in the case. Juan Villavazo has been indicted but had not been caught.
Republican rivals continue hammering Governor Dayton after his spokesman called personal care providers challenging the state's union election law "another extremist right wing group." GOP candidate for governor Jeff Johnson responds the plaintiffs in the case are nine or ten parents who are providing personal care to their sick or disabled children. Johnson says to call that an "extreme right-wing group" seems like a knee-jerk and pathetic reaction. The governor argues personal care providers and daycare workers should be able to decide for themselves whether they want a union. Johnson calls it blatant political payback to the unions. This is the second suit challenging the state law. The other has been appealed to the federal 8th Circuit Court.
US. House Speaker John Boehner is scheduled to make an appearance in Minneapolis next month. The Republican will be attending a fundraiser on August 14th. The goal of the fundraiser is to help push for more House seats from Minnesota during the November election.