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News Briefs: Minnesota second, Wisconsin third for bike-friendly states

The following is a collectionof news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Minnesota second, Wisconsin third for bike-friendly states

Minnesota ranks second and Wisconsin third among the most bike-friendly states in the U.S., according to the League of American Bicyclists.

Only Washington ranked higher for having better trails, laws, promotion of and participation in bicycling.

The League released its rankings Thursday at the start of National Bicycling Month. Minnesota moves up from fourth on the 2013 list and Wisconsin is up from eighth.

The rankings are based on several criteria, including infrastructure and funding that provide safe trails to bike; education and encouragement programs that promote cycling; and passage and enforcement of bicycle-friendly laws that make it safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to ride.

Washington managed 66.8 out of a possible 100 points on the bike-friendly tally sheet, with Minnesota at 62 and Wisconsin at 56.9. Alabama, which ranked 50th, tallied only 17.4 points.

Nearly half of Minnesotans rode a bicycle last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

For more information on biking in Minnesota, or to participate in the development of a statewide bike plan, go to

North Dakota

Fargo man gets 24 years for murder

FARGO -- A Fargo man was sentenced Thursday to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to the drug-related murder of another man here in mid-March.

Wade Anthony Garrett, 19, also was sentenced in Cass County District Court to a year of supervised probation for the murder of 26-year-old Rolandas House near a supermarket in Fargo on March 14.

As part of his plea deal, Garrett must testify against a Moorhead, Minn., father and his two children who are also charged in the killing.

Arlen Clapper, 46, his daughter Tamara, 22, and her brother Alexander, 19, were all charged in April after Garrett told investigators the family had planned with him to lure House to a sham drug deal and rob him in retaliation for stealing money and drugs from them.

Garrett's family members said they were proud of him for accepting responsibility in House's death.

Oregon woman struck, killed on Highway 85

ALEXANDER, N.D. -- A 67-year-old Oregon woman was killed early Thursday when a commercial truck struck her on U.S. Highway 85, the North Dakota Highway Patrol reported.

Gregory Kent, 44, of Dana Point, Calif., was driving the truck south about 10 miles north of Williston. Kent saw Linda Southerland of Foster, Ore., standing in the southbound lane, facing away from him, and swerved left to avoid hitting her, according to the report. But the truck’s right corner struck Southerland at 1:10 a.m.

Southerland was found in the west ditch. The truck was moderately damaged.

The accident closed Highway 85 for a couple of hours.


Virginia man’s death ruled a homicide

VIRGINIA, Minn. -- The death of a Virginia man found Tuesday has been ruled a homicide, Virginia police announced Thursday. No arrests have been made.

Harley Joseph Jacka, 28, of Virginia, was found dead in a residence around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. A man who lives at the residence called 911 to report that a deceased man was in his house, police said.

An autopsy was performed Wednesday by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the cause of death was determined to be from “homicidal violence.”

The Virginia Police Department, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, St. Louis County Attorney’s Office, Eveleth Police Department and the FBI continue to investigate.

Foul play suspected in Calif. death of woman who left Thief River Falls

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. -- Authorities in California suspect foul play in the death of a former Thief River Falls woman found over the weekend in Riverside, Calif.

She has been identified as Jamie Lea Harmer, 32, who authorities believe moved from Thief River Falls to California last November, Riverside police said in a news release.

She was described as a transient. Her body was discovered near railroad tracks, but police said she had not been struck by a train. A cause of death has not been determined.

“We know she spent time in San Diego County from November 2013 to late February 2014,” said Sgt. David Amador. “Her whereabouts from the end of February 2014 to her body being found on April 27 in Riverside is what we are trying to piece together.”

Harmer was arrested twice in San Diego County during that time: Jan. 4 on a charge of battery on a police officer and Feb. 13 on a charge of being under the influence of drugs, according to the news release. She was released from jail Feb. 18.

Anybody with information is asked to call Riverside police Detective Jim Simons at (951) 353-7138 or Detective Jim Brandt at (951) 353-7137.

Baby’s injury leads to charge against day care provider

WOODBURY, Minn. -- An unlicensed Woodbury day care provider faces allegations that an infant was injured while in her care and that she initially denied knowledge of the incident to the parents.

Washington County prosecutors in March charged Cathryn Lynn Domarus, 32, with one count of gross misdemeanor child neglect, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

According to a criminal complaint, a woman picked up her 6-month-old child from Domarus’ home Nov. 13 and noticed the child looked pale and lethargic during the drive home.

The child vomited and was later found to have a bruised head.

The complaint says the woman called Domarus before taking the child to the doctor, and that Domarus denied knowledge of anything that led to the injury.

Doctors discovered a large skull fracture. Assistant Washington County Attorney Fred Fink said it’s too early to tell if it caused permanent damage.

According to the complaint, Domarus admitted to an investigator that while changing a diaper on a kitchen table, she left the child alone to answer the door and the child landed on a hardwood floor.

A state list of licensed providers does not include Domarus. Her first court appearance is set for May 19.

Bemidji doctor accused of bathroom peeping in Louisiana

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji area doctor specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry faces a charge of being a Peeping Tom in Louisiana after allegedly spying on another person in a college men's room.

Dr. James Richard Jarmuskewicz, 57, of Wilton, was booked Monday into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on one count of Peeping Tom. The charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $500 fine.

Jarmuskewicz was arrested Monday afternoon by Louisiana State University police after a complainant told police that Jarmuskewicz had spied on him under a bathroom stall Sunday in the LSU library.

During a search, a mirror was located in his front pants pocket. Jarmuskewicz did not provide officers with an explanation for the mirror and denied looking under bathroom stalls, according to an affidavit of probable cause .

According to court documents, Jarmuskewicz said he was in New Orleans to attend a professional conference and was in Baton Rouge to read at the LSU library.

Parish prison personnel said Jarmuskewicz was released Wednesday on a $5,000 bond.


St. Paul man faces child abuse trial; toddler remains in coma

HUDSON, Wis. -- A judge has ruled that a St. Paul man will stand trial on charges of inflicting life-threatening injuries to his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son.

The boy has been in a coma since April 8.

St. Croix County Judge Eric Lundell made the decision in the case of Jonathon D. Wierstad after hearing testimony from Hudson police Detective Sgt. Geoff Willems, the only witness called at the preliminary hearing Monday.

Wierstad, 24, is charged with felony physical child abuse –- recklessly causing great bodily harm.

Willems testified that Wierstad has changed his story three times about what happened on the morning of April 8 in the Hudson residence he shared with his girlfriend and her son at the time.

Wierstad remains free on $25,000 bail. He is scheduled for arraignment May 19. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The boy remains unconscious and on a ventilator at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.