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Minnesota roundup: Castile officer Yanez seeks change of venue for trial; FBI probes Jewish center threats as hate crimes

ST. PAUL—Stating that his case has become an "omnipresent spectacle," Jeronimo Yanez's defense attorneys are asking for his trial against manslaughter charges in Philando Castile's death to be moved out of the Twin Cities metro area.

The request is rooted in what the St. Anthony police officer's team of attorneys describe as an onslaught of "slanted" media coverage that has dominated local newspapers and TV coverage since Yanez fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6, according to a legal memo filed late Tuesday seeking a change of venue.

It goes on to suggest that the Blacks Lives Matter protests that followed, as well as comments made by Gov. Mark Dayton, create a formidable hurdle for Yanez to receive a fair trial in the Twin Cities area.

"The media coverage and protests have never suggested an iota of fault in Mr. Castile's conduct. That one-sidedness is "potentially prejudicial," the memo reads. "When viewing coverage as a whole, it's too easy for a potential juror to believe Officer Yanez arrived at, and then stepped over, the criminal fault line."

Specifically, the motion says "the media has portrayed Castile as an obedient African American male who has been racially profiled his entire life," casting the 32-year-old in a "false light" while simultaneously suggesting Yanez, who is Latino, was influenced by Castile's race when he made the decision to shoot him.


Moorhead woman dies from apartment fire injuries

MOORHEAD, Minn. — A woman died Wednesday, March 15, from injuries suffered in an apartment fire in south Moorhead.

According to a report released by Moorhead Fire Chief Rich Duysen:

Moorhead firefighters were called about 10:42 a.m. to a fire at a 12-unit apartment complex at 804 24th Ave. S.

When fire crews arrived about 10:46 a.m., they found smoke coming from a garden level apartment.

When they searched the apartment, firefighters found an adult female who was extricated from the building and transported to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where she died from her injuries.

The apartment where the fire started was heavily damaged by smoke, while minor to moderate smoke damage occurred throughout the building.

Moorhead police and fire officials as well as the Minnesota state fire marshal are investigating the fire.

The name of the victim was not immediately released.


Man who died in northwest Minnesota crash identified

GULLY, Minn.—The Minnesota State Patrol has released the name of a Gonvick, Minn., man killed in a Polk County crash Tuesday.

Kyle William Rouland, 31, was driving a 2006 Chrysler 300 west on Minn. Highway 92 just east of Gully when he went off the road at 12:23 a.m., according to a news release. The vehicle rolled and came to rest on its tires.

It's unclear if Rouland was wearing a seat belt or if alcohol was involved.

Gully is about 60 miles east of Crookston.


Judge rejects plea deal for woman who hit young boy with vehicle

SAUK CENTER, MINN.—A judge has rejected a plea agreement in the case of a 42-year-old Sauk Centre woman accused of hitting a 23-month-old toddler with her car while driving drunk in Alexandria.

Becky Lynn Laforge agreed to plead guilty to one of the three charges — criminal vehicular operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm while driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more within two hours of the crash, which is a gross misdemeanor.

She was willing to serve 30 days in jail and complete a chemical use assessment if the county attorney's office dropped two remaining charges — felony criminal vehicular operation causing "substantial bodily harm" with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 within two hours of the crash, and third degree driving while under the influence of alcohol, a gross misdemeanor.

Judge Ann Carrott, however, didn't agree with the jail time and didn't accept the plea.

A jury trial is now scheduled to begin May 1 unless an acceptable agreement can be reached before then.

The toddler, Cori Holmes, was struck about 7:30 p.m. on April 23, 2016. When officers arrived, they found the young boy unresponsive in the roadway. He was also having difficulty breathing.

A preliminary breath test indicated Laforge had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.187, more than twice the legal limit, according to the complaint.

The child was taken to the Douglas County Hospital and later flown to Hennepin County Medical Center because of the severity of his injuries.


Minn. newspaper uses front page to show community connection

WARROAD, Minn.—Readers picking up the Tuesday edition of the Warroad Pioneer didn't have much to read on its front page, but the weekly publication found an unusual way to say why its community and local newspapers are important to each other.

Forum News Service photoThe front page of the 115-year-old newspaper in northern Minnesota was blank with the exception of its nameplate, a banner ad and a paragraph explaining how community newspapers keep locals aware of news, using the words "Without you, there is no newspaper!"

The page also carried the quote, "I'm a reflection of the community," attributed to the late rapper Tupac Shakur.

Publisher Rebecca Colden said she and her staff wanted to show readers the Pioneer relies on the community just as the community relies on the publication for news, adding the weekly "really is the people's newspaper."

The Pioneer noted it has made significant cuts over the last five years to offset rising production expenses. The Warroad-based publication has four full-time and three part-time employees, compared with 10 workers about five years ago.


Woman rescued after passersby say she jumped from Brainerd bridge

BRAINERD, Minn.—Rescuers were able to pull a woman from the water after she jumped from a downtown bridge over the Mississippi River Wednesday afternoon in Brainerd.

A passerby reported she saw the woman climb over a fence on the south side of the Washington Street bridge and stopped to talk to her and try to convince her to come back. While the Good Samaritan was on the phone with the emergency dispatcher, the female refused to come back and subsequently jumped into the river below.

Emergency responders were on the scene quickly and went down the eastern shore of the river to retrieve the woman from the water. She was conscious but wasn't cooperating with rescuers.

An Essentia Health physician, who was driving on the bridge and witnessed the jump, also stopped to try to help with medical needs if that was necessary.

The woman was transported to the hospital.

Another witness reported seeing the woman fall backward into the water from the bridge and also stopped to try to get her out of the water but saw rescuers were able to get her out of the water quickly.


FBI probes Jewish center threats as hate crimes

ST. PAUL - Two recent bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the Twin Cities are being investigated as hate crimes, the FBI announced Wednesday.

The investigation also encompasses a string of nearly 150 similar threats made nationwide since early January.

The Twin Cities threats, which were made by telephone, included one made Jan. 18 to the Sabes Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park and one made Feb. 20 to the St. Paul Jewish Community Center.

No bombs or explosive materials were found in either case.