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News Briefs: Two horses found starved to death

Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota.

By Forum News Service


Two horses found starved to death

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- Hubbard County authorities are investigating a case of animal abuse after finding two horses that starved to death while tied to trees in northern Minnesota.

The horses were discovered by resident Virgil Johnson last week near Dorset Corner, about four miles east of Park Rapids on Minnesota Highway 34.

Johnson reported the incident to authorities and the Headwaters Animal Shelter in Park Rapids.

“I just can’t understand cruelty like this,” he said.

Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said the investigation, conducted by Deputy Troy Christenson, was progressing, but declined to comment further. He said he couldn’t remember any similar cases of animal cruelty in the area.

He said the landowner probably wasn’t the person responsible for leaving the horses to die.

An official at Headwaters Animal Shelter said it had contacted the shelter’s investigator in the Twin Cities, but she didn’t know if an investigator had been to the area yet.

Nevis superintendent won’t be charged in altercation with student

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- Nevis Superintendent Steve Rassier will not face criminal charges after an altercation with a grade school student in February.

According to Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes, Rassier admitted to slapping a student Feb. 26 at the school after the boy allegedly spit in his face.

The student “was kicking and spitting and had to be restrained,” the sheriff said in an interview last month.

The incident, according to police records, was called in at 2:49 p.m. When deputies arrived, the incident had blown over, Aukes said.

But at 4 p.m., “Rassier called in to say while restraining the student, the kid spit in his face and he slapped him,” Aukes said.

School officials immediately notified state Department of Education officials, which prompted an investigation by law enforcement.

The Nevis School Board handed down a brief suspension in March.

Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne issued a statement saying there was not sufficient evidence to support criminal charges

Rassier has declined to comment on the allegations. He submitted his retirement notice this spring and will leave the district at the end of June.

College’s drones to survey farmland in Roseau County

ROSEAU, Minn. -- Small unmanned aircraft will soon be taking to the skies over select areas in Roseau County, according to Northland Community & Technical College.

The aircraft would be flown by students and staff from the college, which has an unmanned aircraft system program at its Thief River Falls campus. It has a satellite office in Roseau and second campus in East Grand Forks.

The college announced Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration approved its application for a certificate of authorization and offered more details Friday.

“We still have a lot of coordination that we will continue working through to make sure the community understands exactly what we will be doing when flying the UAS,” Jon Beck, manager of the school’s UAS program, said in a news release.

The certificate of authorization gives NCTC permission to fly drones over agricultural areas in Roseau County, but the college must receive approval from landowners, fly lower than 500 feet and fly within sight of the operator.

Images collected by the drone will be used by the college and landowners for educational purposes such as determining crop health and pest detection, NCTC said.

Former day care provider gets jail time in infant’s death

HASTINGS, Minn. -- A former Farmington day care provider has been sentenced to serve 30 days in jail and 80 hours of community service for her role in an infant’s death.

Rebecca Lynn Graupmann, 46, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree manslaughter. She also must pay a $500 fine for her role in the death of 3-month-old Kaiden Robert Staebell on July 31, 2012.

Kaiden was in Graupmann’s care that day when she allegedly laid him on a bed while she did her chores. She came back to find he had rolled onto his side. She left him like that and came back later to find him with blue lips and blood around his nose.

According to criminal complaints filed in the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, Graupmann at first denied any wrongdoing and lied about how Kaiden died. She told police Kaiden had fallen asleep in his car seat after eating.

Kaiden’s mother told police she had repeatedly told Graupmann her son should sleep on his back. She also had given Graupmann the message in writing.

Additional charges of second-degree manslaughter, neglect of a child and interference with a death scene were dismissed.

Grocery store checker accused of taking nearly $1,600 from register

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- A Moorhead teen is accused of stealing almost $1,600 from the register at a Moorhead grocery store where she works as a checker.

Kassidy Louise Bartels, 18, was charged Wednesday in Clay County District Court with one count of felony theft.

According to court documents, a loss prevention manager at the Hornbacher’s store reported to Moorhead police Jan. 27 that he caught Bartels tucking bills into her apron pocket on surveillance video.

An officer interviewed Bartels, who reportedly admitted she started taking money from the store in November.

Court documents say Bartels told the officer she was extremely sorry, but that it had become a habit.

Her first court appearance is set for May 8.

Minnesota/North Dakota

Bail set at $500,000 for man accused of trying to kidnap ex-girlfriend

MOORHEAD, Minn. – A Clay County judge on Friday set bail at $500,000 for a Bismarck man accused of trying to kidnap his ex-girlfriend after breaking into her Comstock home armed with a Taser.

William Dubois Dean, 52, was charged Tuesday in Clay County District Court with two counts of attempted kidnapping, three counts of burglary, one count of assault and one count of damage to property, all felonies.

Court documents say the victim contacted police to tell them a man dressed in a hood, dark clothes and gloves came into her home and assaulted her with what she thought was a Taser, but she was able to fight her way free.

Police later found a Taser in the victim’s bed.

Dean was tracked via cellphone towers to a location north of Bismarck and arrested without incident.

At Dean’s first appearance in Clay County court Friday, a judge set his bail at $500,000 with no conditions.

North Dakota

Teen girl shot by 12-year-old boy

WILLISTON, N.D. -- A teenage girl is in the hospital after being shot by a boy on U.S. Highway 2 near Williston early Friday.

A 12-year-old boy shot the 15-year-old girl while they were in a vehicle shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, the Williams County Sheriff’s Office said. The shooting is believed to be accidental.

The girl was flown to Minot and was listed in stable condition. The boy was referred to juvenile authorities. The two were described as acquaintances by the sheriff’s office.

The names of the juveniles were not released.

FAA officials to visit Monday

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration is coming to North Dakota on Monday.

FAA Administrator Michael Hueta will visit Grand Forks and Williston on Monday with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, according to a news release.

The group will visit the University of North Dakota at approximately Monday morning to tour the unmanned aerial systems facilities in Grand Forks. Rep. Kevin Cramer, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and university administrators will join Heitkamp, Hoeven and Huerta for a roundtable discussion.

The group will then travel to Williston to tour the city’s airport at 2 p.m. Officials from Dickinson, Williston, Minot and Bismarck will join them for a roundtable discussion on the growth in western North Dakota and its impacts on airports.

University of Jamestown terrorizing trial to begin Monday

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- The trial of a former University of Jamestown student charged with terrorizing is scheduled to begin Monday in Southeast District Court in Jamestown.

Robert Flores of Southgate, Calif., who is either 18 or 19, is accused of threatening the lives of specific UJ students Nov. 7 in an incident that resulted in a campus lockdown. No one was injured, and the lockdown was lifted after about an hour.

Flores was enrolled at the university at the time.

Court records indicate a status conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday at the Stutsman County Courthouse. If no plea deal has been reached, jury selection is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. with a 12-person jury selected from a pool of 30 potential jurors. The trial is expected to last two days.

The charge is a Class C felony, punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Judge Thomas Merrick is scheduled to preside.

Stanley man dies in accident

STANLEY, N.D. -- An 84-year-old Stanley man was killed Thursday night when his vehicle hit a truck in Mountrail County.

Leroy Larson was traveling south on N.D. Highway 8 between two Stanley residences and Calvin Watkins, 47, of Minot, had stopped his tractor-trailer on the highway waiting to turn left, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.

Larson’s van struck the back of the trailer. His 2006 Dodge Caravan received severe damage to its front end and the front airbags deployed.

Larson was not wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene. Watkins was not injured.