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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Man accused of beating AP's son pleads not guilty

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -  A 27-year-old South Dakota man accused of killing the two-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has pled not guilty. 

Joseph Patterson is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault and aggravated battery in the death of Tyrese Ruffin.  Patterson is the boyfriend of the toddler's mother, and is accused of severely beating the boy.  A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for January.  AP had only learned that he was the boy's father about two months before the child was killed.  


The Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected a request by a southeast Minnesota family to dismiss a ruling that requires an HIV positive baby's health and well-being to be monitored by Mower County child welfare officials.  Rico Martinez of Brownsdale, was born with HIV and his parents wanted to take him off court-ordered medication after he had several bad reactions.  He was removed from his parents care in January, hospitalized until March, and then released to his parents under court-ordered county supervision.  The family attorney says they are disappointed in the ruling and will be examining their future options.


The family of a Minnesota native killed while hiking in India has filed a lawsuit against the outdoor adventure group he was traveling with.  20-year-old Thomas Plotkin of Minnetonka slipped on a wet path and went over the edge of a 300-foot drop-off and into a rain-swollen river. Plotkin's body was never found.  The wrongful death lawsuit contends that the National Outdoor Leadership School did not adequately train and protect the college student before the grueling September 2011 hike.  The federal suit asks for at least $75,000 from the company.  School officials say they try as best they can to help people understand the risks that are involved in the adventures they offer.


The trial of an Apple Valley man accused of killing his pregnant wife and her unborn baby has been delayed for two weeks, after prosecutors asked the judge for more time to investigate.  36-year-old Roger Holland is charged with first- and second-degree murder in the deaths of Margorie Holland and her 15-week fetus.  Margorie Holland died in March, after Roger Holland told investigators that he came home to find her lifeless at the bottom of the stairs. Prosecutors say Holland's version of events didn't add up, and add that the couple had been fighting over money problems.  The trial is now expected to begin November 12.


The University of Minnesota Police Department is urging students to avoid walking alone, especially late at night and on the weekends, after a student was sexually assaulted early Sunday morning.  Campus police say the victim was walking home after a party when she was approached by three men.  Investigators say one of the men hit her and then raped her while the other two stood by as lookouts.  School officials have sent an alert to students, asking them to call Campus Escort Services for a free security escort if they would otherwise be walking alone.  Gopher Chauffeur also provides free transportation to and from Twin Cities destinations on the weekends.


Vandals have damaged a church in Mankato for a second time in less than two months. Police say a brick, a rock, and chunks of concrete were thrown through two stained-glass windows and two other windows at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church sometime early last Friday.  The brick also damaged an elevator in the church.  Parish officials say the stained-glass windows were more than a century old, and it will be a while before they can determine how much it will cost to repair or replace them.  The damage to the standard windows and the elevator is estimated to be about $1,500.  Windows were also broken out at the church in August.


A low-cost funeral provider has convinced a judge that state laws governing the construction of funeral homes in Minnesota is unconstitutional, ending a two-year battle against the state Department of Health and the trade organization that represents funeral home operators in Minnesota.  The plaintiff's lawyer argued that the state law requiring each funeral home to build an embalming room -- even in branch locations where embalming is typically not performed -- required business owners to build expensive rooms that may never be used.  The judge ruled the requirement unconstitutional.


With $147 million in donations nationally, including $26 million for Minnesota charities and nonprofit organizations, the Target Foundation and Corporation topped Minnesota's grantmaking list for 2011.  The General Mills Foundation and Corporation was the second-most generous, donating $104 million, including $19 million in Minnesota. The McKnight Foundation came in third, paying out $85 million nationally, $57 million of which stayed in Minnesota.  President of the Minnesota Council on Foundations Trista Harris says grants to charities and nonprofits have rebounded from the Great Recession, and are now above the donations made in 2008. 


The state Health Department is giving parents nearly a year's notice that new immunization rules for school, child care and early childhood programs begin September 1st, 2014.  The biggest changes:  Hepatitis A and B vaccinations for children enrolling in child care or early childhood programs....the seventh-grade tetanus-diphtheria vaccination is replaced by one that is also for pertussis....and there's now a meningococcal vaccination for students beginning in seventh grade  State Health Department's Kris Ehresmann  says they made the changes because there were several areas where Minnesota was not matching national standards.  Ehresmann stresses the new vaccination rules do *not* change the medical exemption, or the option for parents to decline any or all vaccinations for conscientious reasons.


A teenager accused of causing the death of a man with one punch in a Saint Cloud alley last year is back in court today for another pretrial hearing.  18-year-old Jesse Smithers is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the death of 20-year-old college student Colton Gleason of Greenfield.  It's believed Gleason was protecting two female friends from a carload of attackers when Smithers punched and knocked Gleason to the ground, causing him to hit his head on the pavement.  He died of head trauma hours later at the hospital.  Smithers was 17 at the time but has been certified to stand trial as an adult.  Trial is set for Nov. 12th in Stearns County District Court. 


Gas prices continue to drop in the state and some stations are now charging under three dollars per gallon.  Triple-A Minnesota's Gail Weinholzer says the statewide average is a little higher at $3.17.  Weinholzer says she does not expect the average price to drop below three dollars a gallon, either in Minnesota or nationwide -- but she says there will be pockets with low prices.  Weinholzer says refinery production has not been affected by hurricanes and crude oil prices have been falling since Labor Day.


A subcommittee of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board has two meetings today in southeastern Minnesota, asking for public input on possible regulations on the frac-sand mining industry.  The first meeting is at the St. Charles Community Center (9-11am) and the afternoon meeting is at Wabasha-Kellogg High School (1-3pm).  The EQB has been asked to come up with plans for a set of model standards for regulating the mining, processing and transportation of frac sand used by the oil and gas drilling industry for hydraulic fracturing.


Minnesota parents are among those in a "Stroller Brigade" at the U.S. Capitol this morning, asking lawmakers to reform what they call outdated laws to protect children from toxic chemicals in products.  Kim LaBo with the Healthy Legacy Coalition says a bi-partisan agreement has been reached, but must be strengthened so states can implement tougher regulations if they wish.  LaBo says Minnesota has been a leader in protecting children from toxic chemicals and was the first state in the nation to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.  Officials at the industry group that represents chemical manufacturers (American Chemistry Council) were not reachable for comment.


Authorities continue their investigation after an eight-year-old girl was killed in a crash on Highway 169 Sunday afternoon in Scott County.  The State Patrol says a 48-year-old Mankato man was slowing down when his vehicle was struck from behind by a truck carrying a horse trailer.  The 62-year-old driver lost control, the truck rolled into the ditch, and the trailer rolled on top of it.  One of the passengers, eight-year-old Laura Maloney of Pine City, was killed.  The truck's driver and another passenger suffered non-life-threatening injuries.   


Two men have been arrested in connection with a fatal shooting in Shakopee.  Police say robbery was the motive behind the murder of 32-year-old Aaron Moran on October 22nd.  Police believe one of the suspects, a 21-year-old Minneapolis man, was responsible for the actual shooting.  The other suspect, a 36-year-old Annandale man, is under arrest for aiding and abetting.  Police believe at least one of the suspects knew the victim.  The case has been forwarded to the Scott County Attorney's office for charging.  


The state Health Department is investigating a petting zoo and farm in Dayton after several children got sick.  Three kids are recovering from E. coli infections after visiting Dehn's Pumpkins in the past few weeks.  The children are between the ages of 15 months and seven years, and all live in the Twin Cities area.  One child is still hospitalized with serious complications including kidney failure.


Minnesotans who have had issues with the new healthcare marketplace are being told not to panic because there's still plenty of time to sign up.  Rolanda Mason with Legal Aid in St. Cloud says there's been some frustration with the roll-out of MNsure and the process can appear daunting, so that's why they're providing individual assistance.  Mason says their outreach to help with enrollment covers 14 counties in central Minnesota and is one of five such projects statewide funded through a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.


A Minnesota researcher says families should put together a "media use plan" and set rules about TV, cell phones and other devices -- including limiting screen time to just an hour or two per day.  Doctor Marjorie Hogan of the University of Minnesota says shows like Sesame Street have been shown to teach younger children to be more empathetic, for example, and kids who are sick and miss school for long periods of time can use online programs to keep up with classwork.  But Hogan says the amount of time kids are behind a screen dramatically increased in the past decade -- and too much TV, internet, and other electronic use has been tied to obesity, sleep and school problems and aggression.  Hogan says devices, including television, should not be used in children's bedrooms and parents should be monitoring what their kids do online and the shows and movies they watch.  Hogan and the American Academy of Pediatrics both say kids under two shouldn't be behind a screen at all - including TV.


Two Minnesotans were knocked out in the Knockout Round of NBC's The Voice last (Mon) night.  Holly Henry performed "Creep" by Radiohead, but coach Blake Shelton decided to go with a contestant he had stolen from Team Adam.  Ashely DuBose sang "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train, and while Coach Adam Levine made it clear that it was difficult choice, DuBose lost her spot in the competition.


Last minute Halloween shoppers beware:  If you're planning on going to one of those here-today, gone-tomorrow costume shops, you might want to do your research first.  Dan Hendrickson with the Minnesota Better Business Bureau says a lot of those stores disappear right after Halloween, so make sure you know where to find them if there are problems with the costume, or if a weird charge pops up on your credit card.  Hendrickson says if you rent a costume, it's a good idea to find out up-front what your responsibilities are, in case it gets damaged.  Americans are expected to spend three billion dollars this year on costumes for themselves and their pets.