Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or email@example.com
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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.
WALKER -- A Cass Lake woman charged with obstructing the investigation into the shooting death of Brandi Shank (also known as Brandi Strong) appeared in Cass County Court on Monday. Sara Renae LaRose, 41, was charged in January with two counts of obstructing investigation -- aiding another who committed second-degree unintentional murder. A criminal complaint accused her of giving investigators “false or misleading” information about the November shooting that killed Shank, 25.
BEMIDJI—For the second year in a row, a recently released report showed that Beltrami County residents are some of the least healthy people in the state, and die sooner than other Minnesotans. According to the 2018 County Health Rankings Report, compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Beltrami County ranked 86th out of 87 Minnesota counties for overall health outcomes. The county also ranked 86th for length of life, coming out ahead of Mahnomen County in both categories.
RED LAKE -- Current Red Lake Tribal Secretary Darwin Sumner announced Friday that he plans to run for the position, to which he was appointed in July after the death of Donald Cook, Sr. In a news release Sumner wrote that he has grown to like the job. He decided to run after talking with his family. If elected, Sumner would resign as hereditary chief and pass the position to his son.
LEECH LAKE -- Leech Lake voters decided Tuesday which candidates will move on to the general election in June. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s election ordinance states that if any candidate received more than half the vote in the primary election they will be declared the winner. None of this year’s candidates met the threshold, paving the way for the June race.
BEMIDJI—A second-degree assault charge against a Bemidji man accused of stabbing another was dismissed March 22. Lewis Edward Barney, 47, had pleaded not guilty to the charge March 19. A dismissal signed by Chief Assistant Beltrami County Attorney David Frank said that after Barney was arrested, prosecutors continued to investigate the case. "The state now concludes that it cannot meet its burden to prove this offense beyond a reasonable doubt," Frank wrote. Barney is no longer listed as an inmate in the Beltrami County Jail.
BEMIDJI -- A Maplewood man charged in February with criminal vehicular homicide appeared briefly in court Monday. Michael Joseph Bahl, 34, is now set to appear in court for an omnibus hearing April 30. He was charged Feb. 22 with the August 22 death of his motorcycle passenger. According to a criminal complaint:
RED LAKE—The wreckage of St. Mary's Mission Church hadn't yet cooled when Rev. Jerry Rogers received the first donation to be put toward the construction of a new place of worship. "The very foundation of the building fund is $5, which an elder gave us the afternoon of the fire," Rogers said, three months after the historic Red Lake church burned to the ground in an overnight fire. "She said, 'Father, this is all I have. I want you to use it to build the new church.'"
RED LAKE—Current Red Lake Tribal Chairman Darrell Seki, Sr. announced Friday that he plans to run for re-election, four years after ousting longtime chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain. In an announcement provided to the Pioneer, Seki touted four years of achievements and initiatives, shared his plans for the band's future and asked for tribal members' support.