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News Briefs: Jury finds former coach guilty of sex charges

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


Jury finds former coach guilty of sex charges

DULUTH -- The attorney for a former youth basketball coach said Wednesday that the preteen sisters who accused his client of sexually assaulting them in the summer of 2012 are jealous of each other, starved for attention and habitual liars who can’t be trusted.

But a St. Louis County jury didn’t buy it and found Wendell Greene, 37, guilty of having sexual contact with the sisters, who were 8 and 10 at the time.

The jury, deliberating for about three hours, found Greene guilty of three of four counts of criminal sexual conduct, including one count of the more serious first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of second degree. He was found not guilty on another second-degree charge.

Greene, a former U.S. Marine and former member of the 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard, will be sentenced Nov. 4. He faces up to 12 years for the first-degree conviction under state sentencing guidelines.

In a separate case, Greene has been charged with having sex with a 14-year-old girl during the summer of 2010. That case is expected to be tried later this year.

Defendant, acting as his own attorney, appears in shackles 

DULUTH -- At his request, murder defendant Joshua Lee Littlewolf, who is serving as his own attorney, appeared before the jury Wednesday in handcuffs, leg shackles and orange jail attire.

After several outbursts Tuesday in Littlewolf’s trial on charges of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Joshua Olson in April 2012, prosecutor Nate Stumme made a motion to have Littlewolf restrained.

In a hearing before jurors entered the courtroom Wednesday, Judge Shaun Floerke said he had been considering the use of a stun belt on Littlewolf, under his clothing, rather than the visible restraints.

Littlewolf responded by saying he was Tasered once by multiple police officers and was still able to “beat the (expletive) out of two of them.” He told the judge that he would appear as he was dressed then.

“This is your decision. You have to live with it,” Floerke said before ordering law enforcement to put a stun belt on Littlewolf and leave him in his leg shackles and orange jail clothing.

The legal system tries to avoid a jury seeing defendants physically restrained because of the possible prejudicial effect it could have on the verdict.

Wednesday’s proceedings included testimony from a man who said Littlewolf bragged about the stabbing while they were in jail together.


N.D. sees spike in West Nile cases

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Human West Nile virus cases in North Dakota have increased 105 percent in the last two weeks, according to the state Department of Health.

With fall activities such as football and hunting starting, the department warned residents that the virus continues to pose a threat until the first hard freeze occurs.

Minnesota has not seen such a steep rise in reported human cases, with only a 36 percent increase since Sept. 3, according to that state’s Department of Health.

As of Wednesday, North Dakota reported 76 human cases of West Nile virus, 37 more than on Sept. 3. There have also been nine blood donors, one horse, six birds and 20 mosquito pools that have tested positive for West Nile virus. None of the blood donors showed symptoms.

Most of the new human cases are spread throughout the state, though Burleigh, Cass and Richland counties did have the most positive with seven, 13 and 9 respectively.

Minnesota reported 49 human cases and 13 infected blood donors who had no symptoms.

Suspect sought in Williston shooting

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Authorities in Williston were searching for a suspect after a man was shot and wounded early Wednesday.

The Williams County Sheriff’s Office was called about 2:30 a.m. to the scene of a shooting in Williston and found a 49-year-old Idaho man who had been shot twice. The victim was in stable condition and expected to recover, according to the sheriff’s office.

The suspect is described as a black man driving a silver GMC Yukon Denali with Minnesota license plates.

People with information about the vehicle or suspect should call their local law enforcement agency or the Williams County Sheriff’s Office at (701) 577-7700.

The shooting was reported at 15102 49th Way NW in Williston.



S.D. man named Rural Teacher of the Year

AVON, S.D. -- An Avon man has been named the Monsanto Fund National Rural Teacher of the Year.

Paul Kuhlman works at Avon High School, where he has taught science and math for the last 21 years. His selection as Rural Teacher of the Year was announced Wednesday by Steve Breckon, chairman of the award committee.

Kuhlman has a Bachelor of Science in biology education from North Dakota State University and master’s degrees in secondary administration and natural science from the University of

South Dakota.

"I expect all students to reach their highest potential no matter what level that might be," Kuhlman said in a statement released by the award committee.

He created the Avon Science Fair, which has given students the opportunity to advance and compete in events around the U.S.

Kuhlman will receive the award at the 105th National Rural Education Convention and Research Seminar on Oct. 19 in Branson, Mo. He will receive $2,000, and Avon High School will receive $1,000.

The Rural Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Co.

Mitchell woman dies from injuries in crash

PLANKINTON, S.D. -- A Mitchell woman has died from injuries she received in a two-vehicle crash Sept. 5 near Plankinton, the state Department of Public Safety said.

Shirley Marken, 78, of Mitchell, was the passenger in a 2002 Chevy Impala driven by Richard Marken, 79, of Mitchell. The Impala was westbound on Old Highway 16 and approaching the intersection with U.S. Highway 281 east of Plankinton. After making the required stop, Marken drove into the intersection and collided with a southbound semi driven by Jacob Sawatzky, 33, of Rosenfield, Manitoba.

Shirley Marken received life-threatening injuries and was transported to a Mitchell hospital before being airlifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls. The state Department of Public Safety reported that she died Monday from her injuries, but an obituary submitted to The Daily Republic of Mitchell said she died Sunday. Richard Marken received minor injuries. Both were wearing seat belts. Sawatzky was wearing a seat belt and was uninjured.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating.


Schaffhausen home being dismantled to aid Habitat

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The taking apart of the River Falls house where three sisters were murdered by their father in July 2012 began this week with materials to be salvaged for St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, a local chapter of the national organization that helps needy families build affordable houses.

Phil Stotz of Springfield, Ill., the father of the sisters' mother, Jessica Schaffhausen, said finding a utilitarian purpose for the abandoned house was better than just bulldozing or burning it down.

"That would kind of be a waste, and I don't like wastefulness," he said. "Instead of being demolished, the house is being dismantled. This way, there is some good to come out of evil.”

The house was the scene of the slaying of sisters Amara, Sophie and Cecilia Schaffhausen by their father, Aaron Schaffhausen. He is serving a life sentence.

Stotz and his wife, Becky, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity where they live. He said saving floor joists, roof trusses, the air conditioning unit and more from a 6-year-old house to benefit Habitat in the St. Croix Valley area was heartwarming.

St. Croix Valley Habitat Executive Director Dave Engstrom said the donation amounts to "thousands of dollars" in value, perhaps around $10,000.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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