Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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BEMIDJI—A Bemidji man who intentionally set fire to a house about five miles north of the city was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison Wednesday, April 18. Damian Patrick Joseph Smith, 21, pleaded guilty to first-degree arson March 16. He has been incarcerated since Jan. 1, when the Bemidji Fire Department responded to the fire. According to a criminal complaint, firefighters responded to the blaze at the 700 block of Sunset Way at about about 10:22 p.m. When they arrived, officials found Smith and both of the home's residents in the garage.
BAGLEY—The Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by Clearwater County prosecutors Monday, paving the way for four anti-pipeline activists to argue during trial that they had no choice but to disrupt a pipeline transporting tar sands oil. The dismissal was released six months after Ninth District Judge Robert Tiffany ruled that Annette Klapstein, 65, of Bainbridge Island, Wash., Emily Johnston, 51, of Seattle, Benjamin Joldersma, 39, of Seattle and Steven Liptay, 37, of Brooklyn, N.Y., could present a necessity defense during their trial.
BEMIDJI—A Red Lake man who the FBI thinks was involved in an armed robbery and shooting in November is back in custody. Derek Jon Paddy, 22, was booked at the Beltrami County Jail at 5:07 p.m. Thursday, the roster shows. He was charged in federal court March 29 with four crimes stemming from two separate incidents: first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling, robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. He was also wanted for Beltrami County warrants for simple robbery and first-degree burglary.
BEMIDJI -- A pursuit of at least two people by the Bemidji Police Department ended with the suspect’s car in the Mississippi River on Thursday afternoon. According to scanner chatter, two suspects were taken into custody at about 1:38 p.m. after the car went into the river.
ST. PAUL—As the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission prepares to vote this June on Enbridge Energy Co.'s controversial Line 3 replacement project, Northland lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would crack down on those who train or recruit protesters who damage "critical infrastructure" such as oil pipelines. However, those against the law fear that it would intimidate would-be activists and squash peaceful protests.
BEMIDJI -- A group of local organizations will support sexual assault survivors Thursday with the annual “Take Back the Night” march. The event will be held in conjunction with other organizations nationwide. Various groups have held Take Back the Night events since the 1960s as a way to stand against sexual assault.
BEMIDJI—A St. Paul Park man who arranged to travel to Bemidji to meet and have sex with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl won't spend any more time in jail. Alan Patrick James Haugen, 20, pleaded guilty in February to one count of soliciting a child or someone believed to be a child through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct. He was sentenced Monday to four days in the Beltrami County Jail, and received credit for the four days he spent incarcerated following his arrest.
RED LAKE -- Red Lake Homeless Shelter’s Executive Director Jordan May announced his bid for Red Lake District Representative to the Tribal Council to the Pioneer this week.
BEMIDJI—A Bemidji man convicted of aiding an offender in connection with the death of Rose Downwind is entitled to a new sentencing, according to a recently released Minnesota Court of Appeals opinion. A jury found in October 2016 that Brandon Rossbach, 33, helped Downwind's killer—her former boyfriend Marchello Cimmarusti—burn and bury her body in a shallow ditch northwest of Bemidji. Cimmarusti pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder in April 2016 and was later sentenced to 35 years in prison.
BEMIDJI -- It took just 2.5 months for local planners and builders to transform the empty space on the third floor of the Beltrami County Courthouse into a brand new courtroom, complete with state-of-the art technology and additional security features.