Warwick's trial to stay put

A judge has denied a request to move the trial of Robert I. Warwick, who faces first-degree murder charges for allegedly planning his grandmother's killing.

Warwick's attorney, Daniel Mohs, had argued that the 18-year-old could not receive a fair trial in Kandiyohi County because of publicity surrounding the case. Mohs submitted 51 local news articles, many of which referenced Warwick as the alleged "mastermind" behind the crime.

But in his nine-page order denying the motion, District Judge David Mennis said the news articles attributed statements to court documents or "used cautionary words like 'allegedly.' " He also said that the court will use "several strategies" to mitigate the possible effect of pretrial publicity, including juror questionnaires.

Warwick faces two first-degree murder charges for his role in the July death of his grandmother Lila Warwick in her rambler. Prosecutors say Robert Warwick hatched the plan to rob and murder the 79-year-old, and his friend Brok Junkermeier, 19, carried it out.

In April, Junkermeier pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Warwick's trial is set to begin July 21.


Itasca, Lake, Cook counties

DNR seeks volunteers for loon count starting June 27

The state DNR is looking for volunteers in three northern Minnesota counties to help monitor the loon population between June 27 and July 7.

Volunteers can choose one of dozens of lakes in Itasca, Lake and Cook counties to count adult and juvenile loons between 5 a.m. and noon on a single day. Counting can be done from shore on smaller lakes or by watercraft on larger lakes. The DNR will provide instructions, training materials, maps and counting forms. It will take two to four hours per lake.

DNR officials ask that volunteers commit to complete one or more lakes and consider volunteering for multiple years. To volunteer, call 218-327-4267 or e-mail gaea.crozier@state.mn.us.

pam louwagie • @pamlouwagie


Fundraising nearly halfway completed for pool, center

After a decade of talk, there are signs that a new $27 million pool and community center in St. Cloud is inching closer toward reality. Voters approved spending $10 million of public money on the community pool back in 2004. The St. Cloud YMCA has agreed to join the city as a partner on the project.

Fundraising is 47 percent complete, according to the Y's executive director, Greg Gack, who said "we hope to have a shovel in the ground in 2015."

"The community has had an appetite for this facility for many years, but we still have to come up with the money in the budget."

The city has opened a search for a construction manager, with a deadline Monday for firms to submit qualifications. At 100,000 square feet, the new facility would more than double the size of the current St. Cloud Y.

CURT BROWN • @stribcbrown


After 8 years, Mayo Civic Center funds come through

Rochester has one more construction project on its to-do list.

The community, already gearing up for the $6 billion Destination Medical Center project that will expand Mayo Clinic and transform the downtown, held a celebration Friday to welcome another $35 million in state bonding funds to complete the expansion of the Mayo Civic Center.

The expansion has been in the pipeline for eight years and will add another 188,000 square feet to the downtown civic center. Critics had questioned why Rochester needed even more money from the state after securing more than half a billion dollars from the taxpayers last year for Destination Medical Center.

"This investment ensures that Rochester has a world-class civic center to go along with a world-class medical center," Gov. Mark Dayton told a crowd in Rochester. "That means more people coming to Rochester, staying here longer and spending more money at stores and businesses in the area. It's a win for everybody."

JENNIFER BROOKS • @stribrooks