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News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619 http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/sites/all/themes/bemidjipioneer_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Beltrami County District Court
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

In Beltrami County District Court before Judge John Melbye:

Levi Garrett Holden, 19, of Solway, pleaded innocent Nov. 12 to gross misdemeanor receiving stolen property. His next court date will be January 12.

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According to the criminal complaint, on July 17, a woman reported that her son had been stealing items from her home. She believed her son was assisted by two other men, one of them identified as Holden. The men had stolen seven long guns, an antique wedding ring, a decorative knife, a Tasco rifle scope, lanterns, antique belt buckles and a compound bow. She located pawn tickets with the three men's names on them. Bemidji Police Officers met with her son, who admitted to stealing the items and identified Holden as one of the suspects.

Gerald Joseph Browneagle, 32, of Beltrami County Jail, pleaded innocent Nov. 2 to felony escape from custody pursuant to lawful arrest, while on charge or conviction. His next court date will be Jan. 12.

On March 31, Browneagle was arraigned in Beltrami County District court on a charge of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Conditional bail in the sum of $75,000 was imposed at the arraignment. Browneagle was remanded to the custody of the Beltrami County Sheriff. According to the criminal complaint, at 9 a.m. Sept. 12, Browneagle left the jail without permission and without posting bail. He had been temporarily housed in the basement portion of the jail and left through an open door when the person responsible for watching him was distracted. Subsequent information led officers to a residence on Washington Avenue South where Browneagle was found hiding in the bathroom.

Eric Leigh Strong, 25, of Red Lake, pleaded guilty Sept. 21 and was sentenced Nov. 2 for two counts of felony escape from custody pursuant to lawful arrest, while on charge or conviction.

He was sentenced to 13 months in prison for each count, for a total of 26 months; given credit for 77 days served and must pay a fine of $133.

At 4:01 p.m. Aug. 18, a Beltrami County Sheriff's deputy saw a vehicle, with no front license plate and a cracked windshield, traveling south on Irvine Avenue. The deputy initiated a traffic stop, and the driver identified himself. There were also a small child and two young women in the vehicle. The deputy checked the records for the driver and found that the man did not have a valid driver's license. The photo provided did not match the driver of the vehicle. There was also an outstanding warrant for a female passenger in the vehicle. The deputy told the driver he was under arrest for providing a false name and was preparing to put the driver in handcuffs when the driver pulled away and began running north on Irvine Avenue. A foot chase ensued, and the driver ran into the woods. A female passenger identified the driver as Strong. Strong has a history of assaultive conduct. He was ultimately located in the wooded area and was apprehended by deputies at gun point. He was arrested for an outstanding warrant. He had been serving a prison sentence for felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and in May was granted supervised release and placed on an electronic monitoring system in Bemidji. Eight days later, Strong absconded from the monitor and had been at large for more than a year. No electronic device was found on his person at the time of the arrest. He is a Level I predatory offender and has multiple prior convictions for escape and domestic assault.

Veronica Tucker, 41, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Nov. 2 for amended charges of two counts of misdemeanor theft. The original charge was for felony second-degree burglary of a dwelling.

She was sentenced to 90 days in jail for each count for a total of 180 days; must pay a fine of $783; placed on probation to the court for one year; counts to be served consecutively.

On April 16, a man reported that his I-Pod Touch had been stolen. The man lives in a home next to Tucker's apartment. A Bemidji Police officer spoke to Tucker, who denied having any knowledge of the I-Pod and denied entering his residence. She said she had gone to his residence to ask for a ride. On May 8, Tucker pawned the man's phone at a local pawn store for $100.

Kenneth Calvin Gitchel, 32, of Pennington, pleaded guilty Sept. 21 and was sentenced Nov. 2 for gross misdemeanor domestic assault - subsequent violation.

He was sentenced to one year in jail, of which nine months and 17 days were stayed for two years. He must serve 24 days in jail and was given credit for 50 days served; placed on two years of supervised probation; pay a fine of $283; complete chemical dependency evaluation/treatment; follow recommendations of evaluation; complete domestic abuse evaluation; complete domestic abuse counseling and treatment; remain law-abiding; not have any same or similar offenses; obtain employment; follow all instructions of probation and comply with domestic no contact order.

Gitchel has an extensive history of assaultive conduct, having been to prison on multiple convictions for second- and third-degree assault between 1996 and 2003. In 2009, he was convicted of fifth-degree domestic assault and misdemeanor obstructing the legal process. At the time of the complaint, he was on supervised probation with Hubbard County.

At 10:50 p.m. Aug. 30, two women made a report at the Beltrami County Law Enforcement Center. One of the women said she had been staying with her friend because of her turbulent and violent relationship with Gitchel. At 11 a.m. Aug. 30, the woman went to her residence to retrieve special food for her son. Gitchel berated her and then flipped a kitchen table onto her right thigh. She fled the home and returned later to gather the materials. She and Gitchel got into an altercation over a SSI debit card used to purchase necessities for the children. Gitchel jumped on the back of the woman's van and remained hanging on it until she pulled in to a convenience store parking lot near Pennington. He got off the van and walked home. Gitchel was subsequently located and arrested.

Steven Samuel Rutledge, 21, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty Oct. 20 and was sentenced Nov. 2 to an amended charge of gross misdemeanor dangerous weapon - discharge of a firearm in a municipality. The original charge was felony reckless dangerous weapon - discharge of a firearm in a municipality.

He was sentenced to one year in jail, which was stayed for two years; placed on probation to the courts for two years; pay a fine of $383; not use or possess of firearms or dangerous weapons; pay restitution; not have any contact with the victim or family and he must move out of the apartment complex by Dec. 1.

At 6:40 p.m. Aug. 31, Bemidji Police officers and a Beltrami County Sheriff's deputy responded to a call in an apartment complex in downtown Bemidji. A resident said a gun had been discharged in an adjoining apartment, and a bullet had come through the wall separating the two apartments and passed within three feet of an infant's crib. Rutledge initially told officers the gun had accidentally gone off as he held it at hip level, but he later admitted it went off as he was dry firing from his shoulder.

Bryan Lee Lussier Jr., 23, of Red Lake, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Nov. 3 for misdemeanor theft - intent to restore only for reward, gross misdemeanor obstruction of legal process-interfering with a peace officer and misdemeanor trespassing on school property.

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail of which 75 days were stayed for one year. He must serve 15 days in jail, granted work release, if eligible; placed on probation to the courts for one year and pay a fine of $183. For count two, he was sentenced to 365 days in jail of which 350 days are stayed for two years; placed on probation to the courts for two years and must pay fine of $100. For count three, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail of which 75 days were stayed for one year and must pay a fine of $100. He must have no same or similar offenses, remain law-abiding and have no contact with victims.

On Oct. 31, 2008, Lussier was wanted as a deserter from the United States Marine Corps. He was evading apprehension by hiding at a residence located on the 4000 block of Supreme Court Northwest. He and another man got drunk. Lussier left the residence and illegally entered the residence next door through an exterior patio door. The owner of the home did not give him permission to enter the residence. A man observed Lussier leaving the residence carrying a game system and a number of related games. The owner of the system went to Lussier's home to confront him. He denied having taken her property. The owner went back to her home and a short while later found the game system sitting in the hallway. The games were not brought back. The owner called the police. A Beltrami County Sheriff's deputy and a Bemidji Police officer arrived on the scene and located Lussier in the house. He was arrested for an outstanding warrant. Lussier attempted to flee, but after a pursuit and struggle he was apprehended and restrained by officers. Lussier said he had attempted to run because of his fear over his desertion status. He was subsequently released to United States Marine Corps personnel to face his desertion charge.

In Beltrami County District Court before Judge Shari Schluchter:

Richard Glenn Simmons, 23, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Nov. 9 for gross misdemeanor fifth-degree assault within three years of previous conviction.

He was sentenced to 365 days in jail of which 363 days are stayed for two years. He must serve two days in jail; placed on probation to the courts for two years; pay a fine of $483; remain law-abiding and not have any contact with victims.

At 4:35 p.m. Sept. 30, Bemidji Police officers responded to a report of an assault with a knife at a local store. Simmons and a female individual were involved in an altercation. The woman said she and another man were entering the store when they encountered Simmons. Simmons had a knife in his hand and appeared to be threatening them. The woman then got into her vehicle, but decided to go into the store and confronted Simmons about threatening her with a knife. An employee of the store called the police. In the wake of the incident, Simmons had transferred the knife to his female companion who had concealed it in her bra. The woman surrendered the knife to the police. He has a prior conviction for misdemeanor fifth-degree assault.

Michael Lee Johnson, 26, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Nov. 9, for gross misdemeanor third-degree DWI.

He was sentenced to 365 days in jail of which 355 days were stayed for three years. He must served eight days in jail; given credit for two days served; placed on probation to the courts for three years; pay a fine of $708; complete a chemical dependency evaluation and treatment within 60 days; not use alcohol; not enter bars or liquor stores; submit to random testing and remain law abiding.

At 5:30 p.m. Nov. 3, a person reported that a car was being driven "all over the road" at an extremely slow speed on Town Hall Road near Irvine Avenue. A Bemidji Police officer responded to the area and located the vehicle. The vehicle was traveling 25 miles per hour and failed to signal a turn. The officer initiated a traffic stop and identified the driver as Johnson, who displayed the odor of alcohol, slurred speech and bloodshot watery eyes. Johnson did not have a Minnesota license and had never been licensed. He failed field sobriety tests and registered a preliminary breath alcohol concentration of .391. He was arrested and transported to the Beltrami County Jail, where he registered a blood alcohol concentration of .30.

Connie Jo Frank, 33, of Bemidji, pleaded guilty Nov. 9, for felony first degree DWI. Her next court date will be Dec. 7.

At 3:02 a.m. Oct. 9, a Bemidji Police officer responded to a report of an intoxicated driver traveling north in the southbound lane of Midway Drive South. As officers were en route, dispatch indicated that the vehicle was now driving south in the northbound lane and had crashed into the bridge over the Mississippi River several times. The officers found the vehicle in question in a parking lot. The vehicle's windows were covered with frost and the car was idling with the headlights activated. The driver was identified as Frank, she displayed the odor of alcohol and bloodshot, watery eyes. She told the officer she was trying to turn around and was going to Cass Lake. She said she did not have a driver's license. When asked how much she had drunk, she said not much. She failed field sobriety tests and registered a preliminary breath alcohol concentration of .211. She was arrested and transported to the Beltrami County Jail, where she registered a blood alcohol concentration of .17. Her license was cancelled as inimical to public safety. She has three prior DWIs.

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Pioneer staff reports
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