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Man accused in Bemidji cross burning pleads guilty

BEMIDJI – One of the men accused of placing a burning cross in a Northern Township resident’s yard has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.

Derek Daniel Barnes, 20, pleaded guilty before Beltrami County District Judge Paul Benshoof to felony stalking with an aggravated violation of committing the crime because of bias.

Sentencing has been set for Oct. 10. Barnes, who remains in Beltrami County Jail, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Ryan Fairbanks Andree, 19, is charged with with felony aiding and abetting stalking/harassment. He will next appear in court Sept. 10 for an omnibus hearing before Benshoof. He is out of jail on bail.

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 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.