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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Student who fled party died of hypothermia

MADISON, Minn. — The cause of a high school student’s March 9 death after he fled an underage drinking party is hypothermia due to environmental exposure, authorities announced Thursday.

According to a new release from the Lac qui Parle County Sheriff’s Office, the coroner’s report also said alcohol consumption was a contributing factor in the death of Michael Chinedu Anyasike, 18, of Dawson.

The Dawson-Boyd High School student had been outdoors for about 12 hours after fleeing the party broken up by law enforcement around 12:30 a.m. that day. Anyasike’s parents reported him missing just after noon March 9, and the body was discovered just after 2 p.m. about a mile from where he had fled, the sheriff’s office said Thursday.

Anyasike was pronounced dead after being transported to Madison Hospital.

The sheriff’s office previously reported that about 20 vehicles were parked at the farm site where the party was held, and an unspecified number of youths were issued citations for underage consumption. Several young people fled.

Anyasike is survived by his parents, Dr. Michael and Irene Anyasike, and two younger brothers and a sister.


MOORHEAD, Minn. -- The Hornbacher's grocery store chain plans to build a new store in Moorhead, anchoring a major new commercial area on the city's south side, city officials announced Thursday morning.

Construction on the 61,000-square-foot grocery store is expected to begin this summer at Eighth Street and 40th Avenue South. Plans call for opening early next year, Hornbacher’s President Matt Leiseth.

It will be the seventh store in the Fargo-Moorhead grocery chain, which is owned by Supervalu, based in Eden Prairie.

The store will sit next to the Azool Shopping Center, which is being developed by PACES Lodging Corp/Property Resources Group.

The mall plans to attract a mix of 13 to 14 restaurants and other businesses, PACES owner Kevin Christianson said.


ST. PAUL -- A petition for disciplinary action seeking the suspension of an attorney practicing in Perham has been filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Martin A. Cole, director of the state Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, filed the petition Monday against attorney Bruce Anthony Kunz.

According to a news release, the petition was filed after Kunz waived a probable cause hearing before a panel of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.

Two counts of alleged unprofessional conduct by Kunz were listed in the petition, including conflicts of interest related to business transactions with clients and a lack of candor in bankruptcy.

A message left with Kunz’s law office requesting comment was not immediately returned.

The petition says Kunz was disciplined in June 2008 for incidents including but not limited to: commingling personal and client funds in a trust account, failing to maintain account books and records, and failing to respond to discovery requests.

Kunz has 20 days to answer the allegations.

The Minnesota Supreme Court will make the final decision on any discipline, which could range from reprimand to disbarment, according to the release.


GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- An Itasca County teenager will be on strict probation through 2016, and will have to pay $12,800 in restitution and perform 71 hours of community service, according to a sentence read Wednesday in district court.

Grant Gunderson pleaded guilty in February to charges of fleeing a police officer and driving while intoxicated during a high-speed chase out of Grand Rapids on July 4.

According to court documents, officers were responding to a domestic assault call when Gunderson fled in a vehicle at speeds exceeding 100 mph. At one point, authorities said, he tried to ram two squad cars, forcing the vehicles into the ditch. A Grand Rapids police officer also fired shots at the vehicle.

The Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office determined that the officer used “reasonable and legitimate” force when he fired his weapon.

The pursuit ended on U.S. Highway 169 about 10 miles south of Grand Rapids. A Grand Rapids police officer and an Itasca County deputy received minor injuries.

Gunderson was 17 at the time and the county was denied a request to try him as an adult. Now 18, Gunderson was given a stayed adult sentence of one year should he break his probation.


MORRIS, Minn. – A trial has been scheduled for the week of Aug. 11 in the case of a high school principal charged with sexually assaulting a woman.

Morris Area High School Principal Craig Peterson appeared Wednesday in Stevens County District Court for a pretrial hearing that was closed to the public.

Peterson, 36, is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after allegedly assaulting an acquaintance at his home in Morris in December.

Stevens County Attorney Aaron Jordon said he couldn’t comment on the content of Wednesday’s hearing because it is a pending case. Jordan indicated the trial would take a week to complete.  

Peterson has been on paid administrative leave from his position since Dec. 23.


ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court will not review the first-degree murder indictments against a man charged with killing two teenagers in 2012 in rural Little Falls.

The high court on Wednesday denied without comment Byron Smith’s request to reconsider the indictments.

Smith, 65, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the Thanksgiving Day 2012 shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady, 16.

Smith previously admitted to shooting the teens after they allegedly broke into his rural Little Falls home. According to the criminal complaint, Smith shot the teenagers several times after they walked down his basement stairs.

Little Falls is in central Minnesota, about 35 miles north of St. Cloud.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, with jury selection expected to begin the week of April 14.

Smith entered a not guilty plea in January.

Washington County Attorney Peter Orput is prosecuting the state’s case.