News Briefs: Seal who escaped Duluth zoo euthanizedEditor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Seal who escaped Duluth zoo euthanized
ST. PAUL -- Vivian, a harbor seal who became famous after a flood hit Duluth’s Lake Superior Zoo, died Saturday when she was euthanized after emergency exploratory surgery.
The seal had been living at the Como Park Zoo and Conservancy in St. Paul since the June 20 flood. Vivian and her sister, Feisty, escaped the zoo when their exhibit was overcome with water. Feisty was found on a city street and Vivian was found nearby. A photo of Feisty on the road went viral. Both seals were safely brought back into the zoo.
The animal care team at Como had recently noticed weight loss and lethargy, according Lake Superior Zoo officials, which prompted the surgery. A previous surgery had removed a blockage in Vivian’s stomach. During the most recent surgery doctors found scar tissue from the former surgery, and fusing of the intestine to itself. Considering the findings, the University of Minnesota and Como Park Zoo and Conservancy veterinary staff chose to euthanize the 23-year-old seal.
Female harbor seals have a life expectancy of 30-35 years.
Barn fire kills 1,800 hogs
MORRIS, Minn. – A barn fire in western Minnesota on Saturday morning killed about 1,800 hogs and caused nearly $700,000 in property damage, the Morris Fire Department reported.
The barn and hogs are the property of Lowell Moser and Loren Schmidgall of Spring Valley Farms south of Morris in Stevens County.
About 8:15 a.m. Saturday, the Morris Fire Department received a call about a barn fire off U.S. Highway 59. When Morris firefighters arrived, the barn was fully engulfed in flames.
None of the 1,800 hogs in the barn were able to escape.
The cause is still under investigation by the state fire marshal, Morris Fire Chief Dave Dybdal said.
Early estimates on property loss from the fire marshal is between $600,000 and $700,000, which includes the building and hogs.
Spring opening planned for homeless shelter
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- With a new director in place and construction starting to take shape, The Refuge Christian Outreach Center’s project to build a 28-bed shelter for homeless men in the Detroit Lakes area is nearing completion.
“We’re getting ready to open in late spring,” said Lynnette Price, who started her new job as director of the Compassion House on Friday.
According to Refuge Center director Randy Kohler, the impetus that enabled the Compassion House project to reach its final construction phase was a $100,000 contribution from a private donor.
In all, the project received “well over $200,000” in grants and donations, said Mel Manning, CEO and president of The Refuge.
Jury acquits man accused of drugging co-worker
GRAFTON, N.D. - A jury in Grafton has acquitted Ricardo Sanchez of felony reckless endangerment in a strange case alleging he dosed a co-worker’s coffee with a sleep-inducing sedative.
Sanchez, 44, is from Ardoch.
According to the charges filed by Walsh County State’s Attorney Barb Whelan, Sanchez, slipped medication into a co-worker’s coffee while at work at the Forest River Bean Co., Forest River.
The medication made the co-worker sleepy, creating an unsafe work environment, according to the charge.
Sanchez was charged a year ago and pleaded not guilty last summer. He failed to show up for court in October and a judge issued an arrest warrant.
His jury trial began last Tuesday and ended Thursday, with the jury returning a not-guilty verdict, according to the offices of Whelan and of Sanchez’s defender, Rhiannon Gorham, Grand Forks.
Simpson’s ex-girlfriend pleads guilty to robbery
FARGO – An ex-girlfriend of O.J. Simpson on Monday pleaded guilty to a robbery charge in Cass County District Court.
Christie Prody of Moorhead was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and a four-year suspended term after entering an Alford plea – which means she did not admit her guilty but acknowledged there is enough evidence for a jury to likely convict her.
The Class B felony robbery charges accused Prody of trying to steal a woman’s purse in November at West Acres Mall, after which the two got into a fight and police were called.
Charges against Prody in Clay County District Court accusing her of stealing painkillers from an elderly couple are still pending.
Prody and Simpson met and began a 13-year relationship in 1996, after he was acquitted of killing his wife and a friend.
Fargo man pleads guilty to sex assault of teen
FARGO – A Fargo teenager charged with raping a 13-year-old girl at a party last summer in his south Fargo apartment pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of sexual assault.
Tremaine Quincy Jones, 19, pleaded guilty to the Class C felony Monday in Cass County District Court.
Jones had been charged with gross sexual imposition, a Class A felony, in the Sept. 23 incident in which he and Jermaine Jones, his half-brother, were accused of sexually assaulting two 13-year-old girls.
Jermaine Jones, also 19, was convicted of AA felony gross sexual imposition by a Cass County jury last month.
Sentencing hearings for both men will be scheduled after pre-sentencing investigations.
Inmate charged in pencil attack
SUPERIOR, Wis. -- A jailed Duluth, Minn., man accused of attacking another inmate with a pencil after the two had words during breakfast is scheduled to make an appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Jared Richard Busse, 40, faces one count felony battery by prisoners.
According to the criminal complaint, on Feb. 23, the victim gave Busse three of his juices and asked Busse for his breakfast coffee cakes. He refused. After the victim returned to his cell, Busse came in, put the victim in a headlock and tried to stab him in the ear, back of the head and temple with a pencil. The victim suffered lacerations to the top of his head, side of his face near the left ear and abrasions in one armpit and both right and left feet. Busse’s jail uniform had suspected bloodstains on it and a broken graphite tip was found under his mattress.
If convicted, Busse could be sentenced to a maximum of six years imprisonment and be fined up to $10,000.