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News Briefs: Willmar teen sent to youth facility for role in slaying

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


Man sentenced to prison for sex assault of 88-year-old

DULUTH, Minn. — A Duluth man who admitted to raping an 88-year-old resident of a Hermantown senior living facility where he worked as a nursing assistant was sentenced to more than four years in prison Monday.

Andrew Scott Merzwski, 29, received a 53-month sentence from Judge Sally Tarnowski, per the terms of a plea agreement. He also will need to register as a predatory offender for 10 years and has been ordered to pay more than $1,000 in restitution to the victim.

Merzwski pleaded guilty Nov. 25 to third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The prosecution, in exchange, dropped a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge.

The Duluth man admitted at that hearing that he engaged in sexual intercourse with the woman against her wishes on the night of Jan. 18, 2013.

Edgewood Management Group has headquarters in Grand Forks, N.D., operates 42 senior-living facilities in seven states and employs nearly 2,000 people, according to its website.

Merzwski, Edgewood Vista and two administrators also are named in a civil suit filed by the woman, who is seeking punitive damages.

Teen sent to youth facility for role in slaying

WILLMAR, Minn. — The 16-year-old Willmar teen involved in the slaying of a 79-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to complete the programs at Prairie Lakes Youth Programs in Willmar.

Devon Jenkins also was ordered to serve probation until his 21st birthday and do 100 hours of community service each year as part of his juvenile sentence handed down by District Judge Michael Thompson in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Under the extended juvenile jurisdiction program, Jenkins’s adult sentence, of 15 years in prison, was stayed and could be executed if he fails to comply with the juvenile sentence requirements.

Lila Warwick was found dead, stabbed and strangled at her residence on the east edge of Willmar after she failed to arrive at a church meeting July 29. Jenkins was charged in the case along with Brok Junkermeier, 19, and Lila Warwick’s grandson Robert Warwick, now 18. All three are from Willmar.


Man hit by truck while checking on another accident

PEMBINA, N.D. -- 53-year-old Canadian man died Sunday after being struck by a truck while he was assisting another motorist involved in a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 29 near the U.S.-Canada border.

The accident occurred at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, about one-half mile south of the Pembina Port of Entry, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

According to the report, man from Winnipeg, Manitoba, who has not yet been identified pending notification of relatives, had been the driver of one of several vehicles that had crashed in the southbound lane. He reportedly left his vehicle to check on another party involved in the crash when he was struck by a 2013 Kenworth tractor-trailer operated by a 50-year-old man from Ontario, Canada.

The victim was transported by Pembina Ambulance Service to Pembina County Memorial Hospital in Cavalier, N.D., where died from his injuries at about 7:30 p.m.

ID released on fire victim

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- A man who died in a weekend house fire in Devils Lake has been identified.

William Hendrickx, 57, died Saturday morning in the blaze that destroyed the home, located at the corner of Seventh Street and Ninth Avenue Northeast, according to a report from the Devils Lake Fire Department.

The fire, which started at about 7 a.m., was brought under control in about two hours, according to the report. A dog also died in the fire.

Officials indicated the fire, which started in the basement, was caused by an electrical problem.

Firefighters say they believe the fire started in the basement of the house and moved upward.

No other nearby structures were threatened. Assistant Fire Chief Cory Meyer says it was difficult to battle the blaze because of the damage to the home.

"We found the floor sagging so we couldn't make much entry, so we tried another point in. As we tried another door in we found a victim inside unfortunately," Meyer said.

Bakken CEOs featured at Williston Basin Petroleum Conference

BISMARCK – Lee Tillman, president and CEO of Marathon Oil Corp., will deliver the keynote address at the 22nd annual Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.

Tillman will address the conference theme “Bakken Strong: Economy, Technology, Opportunity” with other Bakken producer CEOs, Harold Hamm of Continental Resources, Tommy Nusz of Oasis Petroleum and Jim Volker of Whiting Petroleum.

The CEOs are among more than 70 industry experts who will speak during the conference May 20-22 in Bismarck. For a full agenda of speakers and events, visit

Registration for the conference will open at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Exhibit space for the conference sold out in 17 minutes when North Dakota last hosted the conference in 2012.

Leak reported at well site near Ray

RAY, N.D. - The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas Division has been notified of a contained piping leak that occurred Friday at a well in Williams County.

Kodiak Oil & Gas reported Monday that about 280 barrels of salt water were released, contained and recovered at a well about 20 miles west of Ray.

A state inspector has been sent to the site.

Minot Mail Processing Center to stay open, for now

WASHINGTON -- North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven announced Monday that the Minot Area Mail Processing Center will remain open, at least for awhile.

A consolidation of the processing center, which was set to take effect on Feb. 1, was part of the second round of closures and consolidations implemented by the U.S. Postal Service across the country to cut down on costs.

“Postponement of the Minot processing center’s closure will give us additional time to make our case, which is that the logistical and service problems resulting from closure will have a harmful impact on residents and businesses,” Hoeven said.

Hoeven has been working with the U.S. Postal Service to improve mail service in western North Dakota.

While consolidation has indefinetly been delayed that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the future. The U.S. Postal Service would have to make the action of notice at least 90 days before the change would take place.