Judge rejects mistrial request in Minnesota case
LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (AP) - A judge has rejected a defense request for a mistrial in the case of a Minnesota homeowner who shot and killed two teenagers who broke into his home.
The St. Cloud Times reports (http://on.sctimes.com/1mByRk9 ) defense attorney Steven Meshbesher made the request Tuesday at Byron Smith's trial.
Smith, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the slayings of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer on Thanksgiving Day 2012.
Meshbesher told Judge Douglas Anderson that the judge's pretrial rulings about what jurors can't hear about the teens have severely restricted his case.
The defense also objected to the prosecutor's comment to a TV station that he would be willing to try the case in front of 12 board members of the National Rifle Association.
The judge denied the motions.
SILICA SAND MINING
Dayton says he can't impose frack sand moratorium
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton says he lacks authority to impose a two-year moratorium on silica sand mining in southeastern Minnesota.
Mining opponents delivered a moratorium petition to St. Paul Tuesday as part of an Earth Day rally at the Capitol.
The petitions also call for creation of tough state-level regulations to protect air and water quality from the mining of silica sand, which oil and gas drillers use for hydraulic fracturing.
But the Star Tribune reports Dayton's spokesman issued a statement saying the governor "lacks the authority to unilaterally impose his own moratorium."
The Land Stewardship Project launched the petition drive in January. The group contends Dayton has executive authority to enact a regional moratorium.
Dayton previously has expressed reservations about silica sand mining in the geologically fragile karst region of southeastern Minnesota.
FBI investigates suspected serial child molester
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The FBI is asking for help to identify at least 90 victims of a suspected serial child predator who worked in American schools worldwide for four decades.
The suspect, 64-year-old William James Vahey, killed himself in Luverne, Minn., on March 21.
FBI agents in Houston filed for a warrant March 19 to search a computer thumb drive that belonged to Vahey, a U.S. citizen. An employee of an American school in Nicaragua where Vahey had recently taught ninth-grade world history and geography gave the drive to the U.S. Embassy.
Special Agent Shauna Dunlap says the thumb drive contains pornographic images of at least 90 boys, aged 12-14, who agents suspect were Vahey's students starting in 2008.
The FBI says Vahey told a Nicaragua school administrator that he drugged his victims.
State board reprimands Wabasha Co. Judge Walters
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards has publicly reprimanded Wabasha County Judge Terrence M. Walters for rules violations.
The board says in one case, Walters was discourteous to a deaf psychologist who was being retained to see if a deaf defendant was competent. The psychologist withdrew.
In another case, Walters tried a defendant who was not in court. The board says the judge also refused to allow a public defender to ask if a defendant wanted to withdraw a guilty plea. And Walters failed to supervise his law clerk and approved the clerk's inaccurate timesheets.
The board ordered Walters to undergo anger management and find a mentor. He also has to write a letter of apology to the psychologist.
A phone message left for Walters was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Cat sanctuary agrees to improve business practices
SANDSTONE, Minn. (AP) - The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone has reached an agreement with the Minnesota attorney general's office to improve its business practices.
The sanctuary's board announced the agreement Tuesday. It comes after an attorney general's investigation into allegations of misuse of funds at the sanctuary.
Under the agreement, the sanctuary will hire an outside monitor to help the nonprofit improve the way it does business. The sanctuary already was outsourcing its bookkeeping to an accounting firm and had in place new policies clarifying how sanctuary funds are used for expenses.
The sanctuary about 90 miles northeast of Minneapolis cares for more than 100 lions, tigers and other big cats.
In a statement, sanctuary executive director Tammy Thies says donors have stayed with the organization "even as we have stumbled and made mistakes."
Archbishop deposition on abuse made public
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Attorneys for victims of alleged sexual abuse by priests say a deposition by Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt shows deceit continues in the church.
Nienstedt is head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. On April 2, he testified about the church's response to sexual abuse allegations.
Attorneys made the deposition public Tuesday. In the interview, Nienstedt said under oath that he hasn't reprimanded or disciplined anyone for how abuse cases were handled. In several instances, he says the responsibility for notifying people about problem priests fell on another church official, the Rev. Kevin McDonough.
Victims' attorney Jeff Anderson says the deposition shows Nienstedt continues to deny the problem and deflect responsibility.
The archdiocese says Nienstedt answered every question and continually reiterated that child safety is the highest priority.
ONLINE LOTTERY SALES
Stopping Minn. e-lotto tickets wouldn't come cheap
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota lawmakers are being told they'll have to come up with millions of dollars if they want to shut down the sales of electronic lottery tickets.
The potential $8 million cost is attributable to lost sales and vendor contracts that would be breached if the Legislature prohibits the Minnesota Lottery from continuing with online games. Lottery officials caused a backlash with the recent launch of virtual scratch-off tickets, which lawmakers criticized for taking place without their permission.
The online scratch-off sales have been occurring since February. The lottery has been selling subscription-based Internet tickets for draw games for much longer.
Top lawmakers in the House and Senate are leading the push to bar future online sales and games at gas pump terminals.
Jurors hear chilling audio of fatal shootings
LITTLE FALLS, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota jurors are listening to an audio recording of the moments when two teenagers were fatally shot by a homeowner who says he feared for his life after several break-ins.
Byron Smith, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the slayings of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The shooting stunned the small city and stirred debate about how far people can go in defending their homes.
Smith says he armed himself and set up recording devices following repeated break-ins. The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1jvMwm4 ) reports that Morrison County jurors, listening to the recording Tuesday, heard glass break, then two gunshots as Brady groaned. Smith told Brady, "you're dead."
Several minutes later gunshots are heard again, and Kifer screams.
Abeler says he won't seek re-election to House
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Anoka Republican Jim Abeler says he won't seek re-election to his House seat as he focuses on running for U.S. Senate.
Abeler, 59, a chiropractor by trade, is among several Republicans seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Al Franken.
Others include state Sen. Julianne Ortman, businessman Mike McFadden and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg.
Abeler said he may run in the GOP primary if he fails to win his party's endorsement.
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