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News Briefs: Release denied for teen charged in slaying
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Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota.



Chimpanzee expert Goodall backs Lynn Rogers' bear work

ST. PAUL -- Independent bear researcher Lynn Rogers got a vote of confidence this week from Jane Goodall, the famed African chimpanzee researcher.

Goodall sent a letter to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton saying she backed Rogers' bear research near Ely and urging the governor to allow Rogers to continue his work.

Goodall iis best known for her decades-long study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania, Africa.

Dayton's administration, through the Department of Natural Resources, has sought to restrict Rogers' work involving hand-feeding and befriending black bears, as well as his use of video cameras placed in bear dens.

Rogers counters that his work is indeed basic research on bear behavior and serves to educate thousands of people about black bears through social media.

The DNR moved in late June to end much of Rogers' field work. But a court-sanctioned agreement with DNR officials allows him to continue using radio collars and non-public cameras. The agreement will hold until his case comes before a state administrative law judge.

Under the compromise, Rogers agreed not to hand-feed bears except to replace, charge or maintain batteries on radio collars.

Release denied for teen charged in slaying

WILLMAR, Minn. -- The parents of a teen accused at taking part in the murder of an elderly woman sought Monday to have him released to their custody, saying he would be under close adult supervision and attend all scheduled court appearances.

Eighth District Judge Michael Thompson denied the request and ordered 16-year-old Devon Jenkins to remain in detention at Prairie Lakes Youth Programs in Willmar.

Jenkins appeared in court Monday for a probable cause hearing on two charges of second-degree murder. He is the youngest of three defendants in the slaying of Lila Warwick, 79.

Warwick, who lived alone on the outskirts of Willmar, was found stabbed and strangled in her home on July 29. Within days, Jenkins and two other suspects were arrested: Brok Junkermeier, 19, who is alleged to have committed the killing; and Robert Warwick, 17, the victim's grandson and alleged mastermind of a plan to rob Warwick of her money.

Jenkins told investigators he waited outside Lila Warwick's house in Junkermeier's car but was not involved in the robbery or murder, according to court documents.

Jenkins and Warwick are both juveniles but could be tried as adults pending the outcome of certification hearings.

Gun 'inadvertently discharged' in fatal shooting

ST. PAUL PARK, Minn. -- A 20-year-old St. Paul Park man died after a gun "advertently discharged," police said Monday.

Regino M. Nitti was shot early Saturday in his apartment. St. Paul Park Police Chief Mike Monahan said the preliminary investigation showed that an acquaintance of Nitti was responsible and that a gun inadvertently discharged.

Police were dispatched at 1:45 a.m. and Nitti dead inside his apartment.

There were witnesses and persons of interest, and Monahan said investigators were still trying to determine what took place.

Guns were found in the apartment.

The completed case will be forwarded to the Washington County Attorney's Office for review, Monahan said.

Man sentenced for stealing rare lifesaving medal

DULUTH -- A Duluth man who admitted to stealing his landlord's presidential lifesaving medal and selling it to the Gold Guys was sentenced Monday to six months at the Northeast Regional Corrections facility and five years of probation.

Nathan Thomas Ostrom, 35, pleaded guilty July 9 to stealing multiple items from his Duluth landlord, Paul Halverson, including Halverson's rare Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving medal, which fetched $1,950.

The 24-carat, solid gold medal has not been recovered. It's believed to have been melted down.

Prosecutors read from Halverson's victim statement that, since the crime, he has suffered increased post-traumatic stress symptoms from his time serving in the Vietnam War. Halvorson also wrote that he has suffered depression, bought a firearm to protect himself, changed his locks and added outdoor lighting to his home in an effort to feel safer -- so far, to no avail.

"It's changed my life," Halverson, 66, said in an interview after the hearing.

Judge Shaun Floerke sentenced Ostrom to one year and day of prison time for the crime, but that sentence was stayed pending a successful probation.

In 1975, Halverson was awarded the Coast Guard medal for diving into the frigid waters of Lake St. Clair near Detroit to rescue a young woman who survived a small-plane crash and was floating unconscious among the debris.

Charges: Man had sex with vulnerable adult

MOORHEAD, Minn. - A 45-year-old Barnesville man is charged in Clay County District Court with having sexual contact with someone who was mentally impaired or helpless.

Michael Ray Herbst faces one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, both felonies.

According to a court complaint, Herbst met a 21-year-old Fargo woman earlier this year after she accidentally dialed his number.

The woman is described in court papers as a vulnerable adult who functions at a 5-year-old level.

According to the court papers, the woman told investigators Herbst took her to his home in May and had sex with her, even though she told him several times she didn't want to.

The court papers said Herbst told Barnesville police during an interview in June that he had sexual contact with the woman and that afterward he asked her whether she felt he had taken advantage of her.

Herbst told police she answered "no."

A warrant has been issued for Herbst's arrest.


UAS firm names UND its official training center

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- University of North Dakota is now a factory-authorized training center for Draganfly Innovations' line of small unmanned aircraft system aimed at law enforcement agencies, the university said Tuesday.

The university has been working with the company's Draganflyer X6, a six-propeller helicopter, in collaboration with the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department since last year.

More recently, the university said it provided a two-day training course for four Illinois State Police officers.

Alan Frazier, a UND professor and part-time Grand Forks County sheriff's deputy who heads up the training program, said the Draganfly contract will be the first hands-on UAS training contract.

UND has been trying to become a center for UAS training, primarily in simulations.

Hoeven honored by Farmers Union

WASHINGTON - National Farmers Union recently announced they will honor Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., with the Golden Triangle Award, the organization's highest legislative honor. The annual award is presented to members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership and support policies that benefit America's family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and rural communities.

This year's Golden Triangle recipients were selected for their leadership on a variety of issues, including votes on the farm bill and related amendments. The awards will be presented at a reception during NFU's Annual Legislative Fly-In this September.

The Golden Triangle Award is based on NFU's symbol - a triangle with "legislation" and "cooperation" forming the sides and "education" the base. The Golden Triangle Awards have been presented to legislators since 1988.

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