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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Unemployment rate hold steady at 4.6 percent

ST. PAUL  --  Minnesota's unemployment rate held steady at 4.6 percent in December, well below the national jobless rate of 6.7 percent. 

Employers in the state added 9,500 jobs last month.  Trade, transportation and utilities led all sectors with 46-hundred new jobs, government gained 2,600 and  manufacturing was up 1,700.  There were 800 job losses in leisure and hospitality, and the "other services" category was down 700.  Eleven of the 12 major industrial sectors gained jobs last year, and leading indicators point to continued growth this year.  Manufacturing was the only sector to lose jobs in the past year, down 400.


A Little Falls man accused of killing two teens on Thanksgiving Day 2012 is expected to plead *not* guilty today to first-degree murder charges.  Prosecutors allege 65-year-old Byron Smith shot 17-year-old Nicholas Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer several minutes apart after they broke into his house.  Smith's lawyers say their client was acting in self-defense and defending his home.  Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one's home or dwelling.  But prosecutors say Smith went beyond self-defense when he shot the two teens several times at point-blank range.


An Audubon man has died from injuries sustained in a snowmobile crash Wednesday night in northwestern Minnesota's Becker County.  The snowmobile 30-year-old Dustin Gilbertson was operating struck a power pole guy-wire, throwing him from his sled.  Gilbertson was pronounced dead enroute to the hospital.  Officials say the accident happened near Highway 11 and County Road 138 in Becker County.


Two men accused of selling heroin in the Duluth area have been jailed on felony drug charges.  Twenty-year-old Cody Husemoller of Duluth was caught with nearly an ounce of heroin during a traffic stop last fall.  He reportedly was transporting the drugs to Duluth from Minneapolis.  Investigators learned this month that Husemoller was renting a Duluth motel room for 28-year-old Cornelius Clinkscales of Chicago.  The Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force searched the room last week and found two ounces of heroin and packaging used for sales.  Husemoller and Clinkscales are both charged with first-degree sale and possession of heroin.