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MINNESOTA NEWS BRIEFS: Authorities Investigating Suspicious Death In Itasca County

DEER RIVER, Minn. -  Itasca County authorities are investigating the suspicious death of a woman in Deer River.

Deputies discovered the woman's body in a home Wednesday morning. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office is doing an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death. The victim has not been identified. Investigators do not believe there is a threat to public safety.


The state Court of Appeals has upheld the arson conviction of a northwest Minnesota woman. A Clay County jury convicted Tara Andvik of Barnesville for a series of fires set on her family's property and she was sentenced to nearly four years in prison. Andvik's lawyers argued for a new trial, claiming lack of sufficient evidence and ineffective legal representation. They also suggested Andvik's husband could have been responsible for the fires. But the appeals court concluded Andvik had adequate representation and that there was no evidence that anyone else caused the fires.


An Owatonna man is dead after his pickup was hit by a semi that failed to stop at an intersection Wednesday afternoon in Waseca County. The State Patrol says 41-year-old Todd Owen was eastbound on Highway 30 when a rig driven by 37-year-old Greg Wendinger of Courtland ran a stop sign and broadsided his truck. Owen died at the scene. Wendinger was taken to a Mankato hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.


Authorities have identified a Red Wing man killed in a crash between a motorized scooter and a car Wednesday on Highway 61. The State Patrol reports the victim is 49-year-old Michael Szymanski. Troopers say a car turning onto Highway 61 hit Szymanski's eastbound scooter. Szymanksi died at a Red Wing hospital. The other driver wasn't hurt.


A bi-partisan bill on federally-subsidized student loans is headed to the U.S. House after passing the Senate Wednesday. The measure lowers interest rates to 39 percent right away and later ties them to financial markets with a cap of 8.25 percent. Minnesota Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) supported the compromise and says he intends to keep working on college affordability. Franken says he voted for the legislation because it will keep rates down for thousands of Minnesota students and their families now, and it includes a cap. The House passed a similar bill in May sponsored by Minnesota Congressman John Kline (R-Burnsville).