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News Briefs: Sebeka man who shot at truck pleads guilty to attempted murder

The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Man who shot at truck pleads guilty to attempted murder

WADENA, Minn. -- A man who confessed to emptying a rifle clip at a pickup truck with three occupants pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced charge at the Wadena County Courthouse.

Logan William Skov, 19, of rural Sebeka, pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted murder for the Oct. 6 shooting at a party near Bluegrass. 

Skov had already admitted to firing his .22 rifle at a pickup that contained Zachary Neuenshwander and Michael Poplin of Wadena and Karl Natschke of Illinois. During an Oct. 8 interview with a sheriff’s office investigator, Skov said he “usually doesn’t flip out and start shooting stuff up.”

Under a plea agreement, the original charges -- three counts of second-degree attempted murder and three counts of second-degree manslaughter -- were dismissed.

The state is asking for Skov to serve 75 months in prison. Ryan Ries, Skov’s attorney, said the defense will file a motion for a reduced or stayed sentence. 

Third-degree attempted murder carries a maximum penalty of 12½ years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

Judge Sally Ireland Robertson deferred formal acceptance of the plea deal until Skov’s sentencing hearing, scheduled for June 10.

Black bear killed in crash near Thief River Falls

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. -- A black bear was killed over the weekend in a crash near Thief River Falls, according to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department.

No one in the vehicle was injured, the department said. A vehicle damage estimate was not available.

These days, bears have become more common road hazards than moose or elk, said Jeremy Woinarowicz, a conservation officer with state Department of Natural Resources.

Last year, three bears were killed by vehicles in his territory of northwestern Minnesota, he said. “It’s not near as common as deer strikes, but it does happen.”

Woinarowicz recalls one elk being hit by a vehicle in the past decade.

The weekend accident happened about 11 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and state Highway 32, according to sheriff’s department.

The bear, which was estimated to weigh 350 pounds, was given to an area resident who wanted the hide, Woinarowicz said.

At Smith trial, teens’ relatives shield eyes during testimony on gunshot wounds

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- Family members of Nick Brady and Haile Kifer covered their faces and wiped away tears as Ramsey County Medical Examiner Kelly Mills testified in a Morrison County courtroom Thursday.

Mills conducted autopsies on Brady and Kifer after their shooting deaths in the basement of rural Little Falls resident Byron Smith, whose home they entered without permission on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Smith is being tried on first-degree murder charges in the teens’ deaths.

Mills testified to the gunshot wounds suffered by the teens, and her testimony was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation of photos of their injuries.

Mills said the first gunshot entered through the back of Brady’s right hand, exited his right palm and re-entered Brady in the right temple. Mills said the shot -- taken from between 6 inches and 3 feet away -- would have been immediately fatal.

Brady also suffered two other gunshot wounds, both of which “would have been fatal had Mr. Brady lived long enough,” she said.

Mills described five wounds suffered by Kifer, calling the second shot, which wounded Kifer behind the left ear, consistent with close firing range.

“This is a fatal shot,” Mills testified.

Two men sought in armed robbery of Detroit Lakes tobacco shop

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Police were seeking two men after an armed robbery Thursday afternoon at DL Tobacco in Detroit Lakes.

A young Detroit Lakes woman said she and a friend were at the counter ready to make a purchase when two young men entered the store and partially covered their faces with bandanas. One pulled pointed a handgun at them and demanded money, she said.

The man with the gun took about $25 from the counter. She and her male friend said the man working behind the counter left quickly through a back entrance.

The woman said the robber pointed the gun at her for a few minutes before shifting his attention to trying to remove the cash register. It was attached to various cables and plug-ins, making it difficult to remove quickly, so she and her friend took the opportunity to move fast out the front door of the shop, on the 600 block of Washington Avenue.

The tobacco shop was in disarray shortly after the robbery, with a heap of items on the floor near the counter. The shop’s owner declined to comment.

The Becker County Sheriff’s Office and Frazee police were among those assisting Detroit Lakes police at the scene.

Gary man convicted of multiple sex felonies

ADA, Minn. – A Gary man was found guilty of four counts of first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of soliciting a child to engage in criminal sexual conduct in Norman County court.

Norman County Attorney James Brue said Rocky Lane Zabrowski, 55, of rural Gary, was convicted by a Norman County District Court judge after a two-day trial.

After a trial earlier this month, Judge Jeffrey Remick issued his guilty verdict Thursday, according to court records.

Beating suspect charged with trying to contact victim from jail

MOORHEAD, Minn. – A man accused of trying to beat his girlfriend to death with a baseball bat has been trying to contact her repeatedly from jail, prosecutors claim in new criminal charges.

Michael John Karau, 34, was charged Wednesday in Clay County District Court with two felony counts of violating a no contact order within two years of the first two convictions.

Those charges come after he was charged with first-degree attempted murder and other felonies related to the beating this month of his live-in girlfriend, which also involved an attempted bathtub drowning. The attack left her with multiple broken bones, authorities say.

Court documents say the woman’s mother contacted police to report that Karau had contacted her daughter multiple times from jail since his April 10 arrest, telling the victim that he loved her.

Karau’s next court date is set for May 29.

Wells Fargo employee accused of stealing from drop box

MOORHEAD, Minn. – An employee at a Wells Fargo bank branch in Moorhead is accused of stealing more than $2,000 from the bank’s night drop box.

Estella Nnama Buhendwa, 23, of Fargo, was charged Wednesday in Clay County District Court with felony theft.

Documents filed with the charges say police were called to the Wells Fargo bank on Holiday Drive on March 24 for a theft report.

A branch manager told police two deposits had been removed from the drop box, one for $598.83 on March 6, the other for $1,555.96 on Feb. 10.

Officers spoke with Buhendwa, who allegedly admitted taking the deposits, along with $400 from her cash drawer.

Documents say she told officers she had taken the money for a friend who was in need, but she claimed she never opened the deposits and didn’t know how much money there had been.

Her first court date is set for May 15.

North Dakota

Simonson Lumber closes Grafton store

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Simonson Lumber and Hardware closed its store in Grafton last week, but it isn’t saying goodbye to the Walsh County community it has served for 83 years, a company official said.

“We’re basically consolidating into the Grand Forks store,” said Kim Simonson, the company’s marketing director and outside sales manager. “We did about 85 percent of the work out of the Grand Forks store.”

It’s an economic decision, based on declining sales in Grafton as more and more customers choose to shop in big box stores in Grand Forks, she said.

In 1994, after a fire destroyed the Grafton location, Simonson invested $2 million to build a new store in the community of 4,000 about 40 miles north of Grand Forks.

Simonson said the company has been consulting with the six Grafton employees in an effort to keep them. Two have accepted positions with company and officials are waiting to hear from the others.

The company is expanding services in its Grand Forks and Fargo stores. It also is adding about a dozen positions as well as increasing inventory, including roofing materials.

Driver injured as diesel tanker truck overturns

WILTON, N.D. -- A tanker truck hauling diesel fuel overturned Thursday morning about 3 miles south of Wilton on Highway 83, injuring the 56-year-old driver.

Marlon Shaffer of Mandan was traveling north at about 7:25 a.m. when the tanker truck and trailer it was pulling drove off the highway and into the east ditch, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

The truck overturned when Shaffer tried to steer it back onto the roadway. It came to a rest in the emergency lane.

Shaffer was taken to St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck.

Industry poll: 70 percent of Americans support Keystone XL

DICKINSON, N.D. -- The American Petroleum Institute is using a new poll to show Americans’ support for the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

With the latest delay -- the State Department on Friday said federal agencies need more time to review the project in light of a Nebraska court dispute -- Keystone XL proponents are reiterating their belief that the delays are politically motivated.

In the poll, conducted with 1,000 registered voters by Nielsen for API, 70 percent of respondents said they support building the Keystone XL. The pipeline would connect Canadian oil sands production to refineries on the Gulf Coast, picking up about 100,000 Bakken barrels a day on the way.

API also polled respondents on their overall views of energy policy, and found 80 percent said their votes in the 2014 midterm elections will be influenced by a politician’s stand on energy issues.

Asked if a candidate’s support for Keystone XL would make them more likely to support the candidate, 68 percent said yes.

TV station to launch statewide morning news show

FARGO -- WDAY/WDAZ News will launch the first statewide morning show in North Dakota.

First News will expand its coverage beginning Monday, the station said in a news release. The show will air from 5 to 7 a.m. Central Daylight Time. It will appear on WDAY channel 6.1 in Fargo, WDAZ channel 8.1 in Grand Forks, KBMY channel 17.1 in Bismarck, KMCY channel 14.1 in Minot, 11.2 in Williston and 2.2 in Dickinson.

The program also will be available on radio station WDAY-AM 970 and online at

WDAY/WDAZ is a property of Forum Communications Co., which also owns Forum News Service.

19-year-old Fargo man accused of raping teen

FARGO – A 19-year-old Fargo man is accused of raping a younger teenager in her sleep at a Mapleton house party in February.

Devin John-William Hillman was charged Wednesday in Cass County District Court with Class A felony gross sexual imposition and Class A misdemeanor corruption of a minor.

According to documents filed with the charges, Cass County deputies were called to the Sanford Medical Center emergency room at about 8:10 p.m. Feb. 22 on a sexual assault report.

A 15-year-old girl told police she had been out bowling the previous night with a group of friends and had gone with them to one of their homes in Mapleton.

They had consumed a few alcoholic drinks and had fallen asleep at about 2 a.m.

The girl said she awoke to one of her friends, Hillman, having sex with her in her sleep. Deputies made contact with Hillman on his cellphone, and he agreed to come in for an interview, according to court documents.

His first court hearing has not been set.

Bismarck man gets 10 years in prison for child porn possession

BISMARCK -- A Bismarck man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon announced Thursday.

Erik E. Cryderman, 47, also will serve 10 years of supervised release after his prison term and must register as a sex offender, Purdon said in a news release.

Cryderman was arrested March 7, 2012, for being in possession of visual depiction showing minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. He pleaded guilty to the charge Jan. 21.