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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Crash closed Highway 61 near Lake City

LAKE CITY --  Highway 61 in southeastern Minnesota was temporarily closed north of Lake City due to a fatal crash Monday. 

MnDOT had to detour northbound and southbound traffic as the State Patrol completed its investigation.  Troopers say the collision involves two vehicles and at least person was killed.  No other information has been released.  


An Annandale woman is dead after a crash Sunday afternoon on Highway 55 in Maple Lake.  The State Patrol says 71-year-old Janice Bowman was killed when an SUV driven by her husband was struck by a car pulling out of a gas station.  Seventy-one-year-old Robert Bowman and the other driver, 45-year-old Ronda Vincent of Big Lake, were taken to a Buffalo hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  


St. Cloud police are investigating the death of a person near Whitney Park.  Sergeant Jason Burke says officers discovered the body just after 6:00 p.m. last Sunday night in a wooded area on the north side of the park.  Burke says it's an active investigation and no other details are being released at this time.  The initial investigation leads police to believe the incident to be a suicide.  There is no danger to public safety.


Police have identified the victim of an apparent homicide on St. Paul's East Side.  Authorities were called to an apartment Saturday evening and found the body of 46-year-old Towanda Harris.  A 54-year-old male suspect has been arrested in connection with Harris' death.  The incident and Harris' cause of death remain under investigation. 


This is sentencing day for an Oakdale woman convicted of killing her newborn daughter during a retrial last fall.  Twenty-four-year-old Nicole Beecroft was 17 when prosecutors say she stabbed the infant to death and put the body in a garbage can.  Beecroft was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2008, but that conviction was overturned by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2012.  A Washington County judge found her guilty of second-degree murder last September.  Beecroft faces up to 30 years in prison.  She has claimed the girl was stillborn.  


Following unanimous approval in the Minnesota state House and Senate, what will be the first state law to consider the unique needs of pregnant inmates now awaits the signature of Governor Dayton.  Jessica Anderson of Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota says the legislation seeks to ensure that these incarcerated women are safe and healthy through pregnancy and postpartum.  She says the goal is to create healthy beginnings for babies born to pregnant inmates and ensuring they have access to certain standards of care, treatment and education.  Anderson says the women's prison in Shakopee and county jails do have policies pertaining to pregnancy, but they vary depending on location, and this statute will provide consistency across the system. 


A North Shore landmark along Highway 61 in Knife River was severely damaged by fire Sunday morning.  The production area at Russ Kendall's Smokehouse was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.  Crews contained the blaze in about an hour and remained on the scene most of the morning.  The smokehouse area and structure connected to the store-bar were destroyed.  The retail space suffered smoke damage.  Co-owner Gordy Olson tells the Duluth News-Tribune his family is still assessing the damage and has not made any decisions about the future of the business.  


No hazardous materials and no injuries, but Cass County officials say a 50-car BNSF train derailed near Pillager just before midnight Sunday.  Sheriff Tom Burch says the train was carrying coal, and several intersections at the Bigwater Addition Estates are closed for clean up and to right the train.  Burch says that could take several days.  The Cass County Sheriff's Office and BNSF officials are investigating the cause of the derailment.