From Wabasha to Warroad, from Sleepy Eye to Silver Bay, Dateline Minnesota scours the state to bring you breaking news from outside the Twin Cities.

Hoffner says he will return to old job as Mankato football coach

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: April 15, 2014 - 2:31 PM

Former Minnesota State University Mankato head football coach Todd Hoffner said Tuesday afternoon that he would return to the school and resume his old duties. 

It was the first time he discussed his future since an arbitrator concluded that the university wronged him in the past.

Hoffner, a 47-year-old husband and father of three, was arrested in 2012 and charged with two counts of child pornography after university staff found images of his naked children on his work-issued cell phone. A judge tossed the charges out, concluding that the images were simply a father recording his children’s innocent bath time play.

But the incident happened just months after retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child sex abuse, and in that charged atmosphere the university first suspended, then fired Hoffner.

Last week, an arbitrator sided with Hoffner, saying the university was wrong to dismiss him, and should rehire him immediately.

Hoffner, who has accepted the head coaching job at Minot State University in North Dakota, now faces a choice between returning to work in Mankato, or moving his family to Minot.

The press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. at his lawyer’s offices in Minneapolis.
 

Suspected shooter of Norman County deputy arrested

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: April 15, 2014 - 12:21 PM

From staff and wire reports

UPDATED: A suspect is under arrest after the Tuesday morning shooting of a Norman County deputy during a traffic stop.

The wounded deputy, who has not been identified, is expected to recover. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports that the incident began around 8:30 a.m., when the deputy pulled over a vehicle at the intersection of County Road 39 & County Road 12 near Perley.

The deputy was taking one of the vehicle's occupants into custody on a warrant when the other occupant of the vehicle opened fire, shooting the deputy. Thanks to the bullet-resistant vest the deputy was wearing, the injury was not life threatening.

The deputy returned fire, but the suspect fled in the vehicle. Multiple law enforcement agencies converged on the area, northeast of Moorhead, to begin the search.

Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist told the Fargo Forum that the suspect was caught hiding in the woods on an abandoned farm around 10:30 a.m., not far from the site of the shooting.

Searchers spotted the vehicle in the woods on an abandoned farm, Bergquist said in a video posted by the Forum. With the help of helicopters on loan from the border patrol, he said, they were able to spot the suspect hiding in the woods and make an arrest.

"Our guys were driving by this abandoned farm," he said. "They drove in there and came upon the vehicle in the woods. With the help of the helicopters from the border patrol, they did find the suspect in the woods and he came out without incident."

The Forum reported that a number of facilities in the area, including a nearby hospital and elementary school, went into lockdown during the manhunt.
 

Six jurors chosen in Byron Smith trial

Posted by: Pam Louwagie Updated: April 14, 2014 - 5:26 PM

Four women and two men were chosen Monday to serve as jurors in Byron Smith's trial for killing two teenage intruders in his Little Falls home.

Smith, 65, is facing two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the Thanksgiving 2012 deaths of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady, who had broken into his house on the Mississippi River.

Smith is claiming he acted in defense of himself and his home in shooting the teens as they descended his basement stairs about 10 minutes apart. Prosecutors say he went too far by continuing to shoot the teens, who were already wounded.

In Minnesota, a person can justifiably take a life to avert death or great bodily harm, or to prevent a felony in his or her home. Juries are instructed to consider the circumstances and whether it was a decision "a reasonable person would have made in light of the danger perceived."

Court officials said Monday that 130 prospective jurors were called for the case in Morrison County. Twenty were questioned in the courtroom on Monday. Jury selection will resume Tuesday, with 15 jurors called each morning and each afternoon until the jury is chosen.

Three jurors chosen in Little Falls intruder shooting trial

Posted by: Pam Louwagie Updated: April 14, 2014 - 1:43 PM

Three jurors were chosen this morning in the Byron Smith murder trial in Little Falls, state court officials said.

Smith, 65, faces life in prison if found guilty of first-degree murder. He is charged in the killings of 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady, who broke into his home on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. 

Smith is claiming he acted in defense of himself and his home in shooting the teens as they descended his basement stairs about 10 minutes apart. Prosecutors say he went too far by continuing to shoot the teens, who were already wounded.

In Minnesota, a person can justifiably take a life to avert death or great bodily harm, or to prevent a felony in his or her home. Juries are instructed to consider the circumstances and whether it was a decision "a reasonable person would have made in light of the danger perceived."

The trial will likely include an audio recording that Smith, a retired U.S. State Department employee who set up security at embassies, had taped during the shootings. Prosecutors say Smith can be heard uttering "you're dead" after shooting Brady three times and calling Kifer "bitch" as he shot her. They said he dragged each into his workshop and fired a final shot beneath Kifer's chin and into her cranium, describing it to authorities as a "good, clean finishing shot."

Smith's attorney, Steve Meshbesher, has said Smith was terrified after enduring several prior break-ins at his home on the backwaters of the Mississippi River. Smith didn't know how many people were breaking in and whether they were armed, and was afraid to be in his own home, the defense contends.

Thawing Duluth welcomes first upbound ship convoy

Posted by: Jennifer Brooks Updated: April 14, 2014 - 11:18 AM

The first ships to shoulder their way west through the Lake Superior ice sheets reached Duluth Monday morning.

Brutal winter cold covered the Great Lakes in thick sheets of ice and delayed the start of the 2014 shipping season. The first ship to cross the stretch from the Soo Locks to Duluth around 6 a.m., a convoy edging through the ice with a Coast Guard escort

Star Tribune file photo.

Star Tribune file photo.

.

The Stewart J. Cort passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge first, followed a few hours later by the Mackinaw, Sam Laud and Algoma Discovery, according to the site boatnerd.com. The convoy left Whitefish Bay last week.

U.S. and Canadian coast guard ships will be escorting convoys until the icy shipping lanes are safer.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT