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News Briefs: State wants DNA from Willmar murder suspect

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


State wants DNA from Willmar murder suspect

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A Willmar teen charged with the July 29 murder of 79-year-old woman will have to provide a DNA sample.

During a brief court appearance Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court, Assistant State's Attorney General Matthew Frank made a formal request to Judge Donald Spilseth that the state be allowed to collect DNA from Brok Junkermeier.

Frank said DNA is needed as the state tests forensic evidence collected from Junkermeier's home and car, where blood was reportedly found.

Blood found at the scene of the murder and on the murder weapon, which was described in the police report as a sword-type knife, also will be tested for DNA, Frank said.

Junkermeier, 19, is charged with second-degree murder for strangling and stabbing Lila Warwick, a great-grandmother who lived alone in her home on the edge of Willmar.

Two other Willmar teens, Devon James Jenkins, 16, and Robbie Warwick -- the 17-year-old grandson of Lila Warwick who is alleged to have devised the murder plan -- are also charged with second-degree murder and liability for crimes of another.

Three face charges after clerk spots bogus bills

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Three people face counterfeiting charges in Clay County District Court after a sharp-eyed store clerk in Barnesville notified police of suspicious bills Monday.

Lt. Stephen Landsem of the Clay County Sheriff's Office said a clerk at the Tesoro service station called Barnesville police early Monday after two men tried paying for gas with $20 bills that appeared to be suspicious, based on a pen the clerk used to test the bills.

When the clerk questioned the men about the bills, they left the bills behind and took off in a minivan. Landsem said an alert was sent out and a Minnesota State Patrol trooper stopped the vehicle on Interstate 94.

Two men were arrested and the vehicle was impounded.

Landsem said investigators found about $3,700 in counterfeit $20, $50 and $100 bills in the van, along with a printer. A woman who had been traveling with the men was also arrested, he said.

Landsem identified the three as Margret N. Miramon, 42; Ralph D. Taylor, 51; and Andrew J. Jenson, 41. He did not have addresses for the suspects, all of whom face at least one felony counterfeit-related charge, according to Landsem, who said the three appear to have been traveling across the country in the minivan.

Man gets 18 years for attempted murder of ex-girlfriend

DULUTH -- A Duluth man who pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend will spend up to 18 years in prison.

Matthew Paul Shober, 22, was sentenced Tuesday to 216 months in prison for attempted murder after beating and sexually assaulting the woman outside the Miller Hill Mall on May 30.

Although the guideline sentence was 153 months, prosecutor Jessica Smith argued for a harsher penalty due to Shobert's past pattern of domestic abuse.

Judge Sally Tarnowski agreed.

"The victim is going to spend the rest of her life looking back at this," Tarnowski told Shober. "It's not reasonable for me to give you a break, because she's not going to get one."

Shober will spend at least 12 years in prison. With good behavior, he is eligible to be released on supervised probation during the final six years of the sentence.

The victim, who was 21 at the time of the incident, wiped away tears as she went before the court to read a victim impact statement. She said she suffers from flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it," she said. "It's hard to sleep through the night."

Public defender Keith Shaw argued for a lesser sentence, saying that his client has mental health issues that need to be addressed.

Trial set for Montevideo man in illegal weapons case

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Montevideo man accused of possessing illegal weapons, including Molotov cocktails and a pipe bomb, is scheduled for trial Aug. 26 in federal court in Minneapolis.

Buford "Bucky" Rogers, 24, has pleaded not guilty to all four charges against him, which stem from a May search of his home.

Rogers was indicted in May by a federal grand jury on one count of illegally possessing a firearm and three counts of possessing "unregistered destructive devices," including two Molotov cocktails, two "black powder and nail devices" and a pipe bomb.

Due to a 2011 burglary conviction, Rogers is prohibited from possessing firearms.

A Texas man reportedly tipped off the FBI on May 2 that Rogers was allegedly planning attacks of government sites in Montevideo. Rogers was arrested May 3 in what the FBI described at the time as a terrorism case. Roger was not indicted on any federal terrorism charges.

Plane totaled, pilot unharmed in crash at Loon Lake

VERGAS, Minn. -- A pilot from North Dakota was unharmed but his airplane was totaled in a crash Saturday on Loon Lake.

Mark Spiekermeier, 60, of Wahpeton, was trying to take off from the water on the southeast side of Loon Lake when his 2006 Airborne Ultra-Lite plane veered to the right and crashed, according to a report by the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office.

Spiekermeier told authorities he believed there was a mechanical problem, but won't know more until the plane is inspected. He has 15 years of flying experience.

Authorities reported no signs of impairment.

The plane was towed to shore with the help of local boat owners, Vergas Fire and Rescue and the Otter Tail County Water Patrol.

No hazardous material leaked into the lake.

Axe handle beating nets prison sentence

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A 48-year-old Red Lake man was sentenced Monday to more than eight years in prison for beating another man with an axe handle, resulting in the victim losing an eye.

Joseph William Howard will serve eight years and nine months, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. The punishment was handed down by U.S. District Judge John Tunheim.

On Jan. 13, Howard assaulted the victim at a Redby home, the release stated. Police found the victim in the home with a badly beaten and lacerated face. On the bed and walls of the room in which the victim was staying, police noted blood splatters, the release said.

The blood-soaked weapon was also found in the home. The victim suffered multiple facial fractures, and his left eye was so badly damaged that it had to be surgically removed.

Howard pleaded guilty in May to one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury.


N.D. reports first West Nile death of 2013

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Department of Health has reported the state's first West Nile virus death of the year.

West Nile program manager Michelle Feist said the victim was a woman older than 60 who lived in the southeastern part of the state. She did not have any underlying health conditions.

The state has seen 16 human cases so far this year.

Minnesota reported its first death from West Nile virus Monday. Eight people have been hospitalized so far. There is a total of 16 human cases in Minnesota.

"This time of year we tend to see the mosquito that transmits West Nile virus, it's in higher numbers," Feist said. "The past few weeks we've seen anywhere from 12 to 14 percent of the mosquitoes that are in our surveillance trap are that type of mosquito, the culex tarsalis, and so what that means is that there is risk of West Nile virus transmission and higher risk."

Expansion of water project celebrated in Ray

RAY, N.D. -- Officials here celebrated the completion of a water project Tuesday that will provide high-quality drinking water for residents who previously faced water restrictions.

Water from the Western Area Water Supply Authority was connected to the R&T Water Supply Commerce Authority on Tuesday to provide additional water to residents of Ray, Tioga, Stanley, Wildrose and Crosby.

Last summer, residents of the rapidly growing area dealt with intermittent water restrictions and a moratorium on service to new housing developments due to water shortages.

The Western Area Water Supply Authority treats water from the Missouri River and transports it via pipelines. Later this summer, the project is expected to begin service to Fortuna, Noonan, Columbus and rural users in western McKenzie County.

The project will serve an estimated 100,000 people by 2035 in Burke, Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams counties.

Affordable housing completed in Tioga

TIOGA, N.D. - Lutheran Social Services Housing and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency marked the successful completion of two Tioga apartment complexes Tuesday.

The nonprofit's new Nordic Hills Apartments provides 26 units of affordable rental housing for seniors and families. The adjacent Juniper Ridge Apartments offers an additional 10 spacious units. The complex is just north of the Tioga Medical Center.

All the units have income restrictions. A three-person household that earns $34,860 or less will qualify to rent one of the three-bedroom units for $670.

Juniper Ridge units are tied to the median income in the area. Currently, a three-person household that earns $69,720 or less will qualify to rent one of the three-bedroom apartments for $797.

The Housing Finance Agency assisted with Low Income Housing Tax Credits to Nordic Hills and financing for both projects. Nordic Hills cost $4.5 million; Juniper Ridge cost more than $1.5 million.


Two rescued after sailboat capsizes on Lake Superior

BAYFIELD, Wis. -- Two men were rescued Monday in Lake Superior after the sailboat they were on capsized, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard station in Bayfield received a call from a 911 dispatcher about 2:30 p.m. about a report of a capsized 17-foot sailboard near Madeline Island.

"Both men did the right thing by wearing their life jackets," Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Harris said in a news release. "The men were also wearing wetsuits, which would have greatly helped their chances of survival if we had not found them right away."

The Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., issued an urgent marine-information broadcast, asking those on the water to report any sightings to the closest Coast Guard unit and help if possible.

A crew from Station Bayfield found the two men and took them out of the water, towed the sailboat and brought the men to Madeline Island Marina.

No injuries were reported, and the men's names were not released.