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Bemidji man who set burning cross in yard sentenced to jail

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BEMIDJI – A local man has been sentenced for placing a burning cross in a Northern Township resident’s yard.

Derek Daniel Barnes, 20, of Bemidji, charged with felony stalking with an aggravated violation of committing the crime because of bias, was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison with the sentence stayed for five years. He must serve 177 days in jail and was given credit for 118 days served.

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Barnes, who pleaded guilty Aug. 20, must pay or work off a $1,000 fine and pay $85 in fees. He was sentenced by Beltrami County District Judge Paul Benshoof.

Conditions of the stayed sentence include no contact with the victims or his co-defendant, Ryan Fairbanks Andree; complete an alcohol assessment and follow its recommendations; complete a diagnostic evaluation and follow its recommendations; and have no alcohol or controlled substance use; no possession of drugs or alcohol; not enter bars or liquor stores; and take all prescribed medications as ordered. He must supply a DNA sample and submit to random testing.

According to the criminal complaints:

Barnes constructed an 8-foot-tall cross while Andree was present, telling Andree that he intended to use the cross to scare a black woman at a residence in the 15200 block of Bug Turtle Drive in Northern Township. Barnes drew swastikas and wrote racial epithets and threats on the cross.

Barnes, with assistance from Andree and another unidentified person, placed the cross in Barnes’ vehicle and then Barnes and Andree drove to the residence, where Barnes removed the cross and propped it against a tree in the yard. Barnes placed accelerants on the cross while Andree attempted to videotape it on his cell phone.

Barnes then lit the cross, got back in the car and he and Andree fled the scene.

The intended target was not home, but a woman who was home ran out and doused the flames with water from a garden hose.

The woman is white. Her two adult daughters are mixed-race with a black father. The family has since moved from the home.

Andree, 19, of Bemidji, is charged with aiding and abetting felony stalking with an aggravated violation of committing the crime because of bias. He also appeared in court Monday for a hearing. A contested omnibus hearing was scheduled for Nov. 14. 

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