By Abby Simons
The woman charged with kidnapping the 8-month old son of a friend in February has been deemed mentally competent to stand trial.
Isabel Diaz-Castillo, 30, is scheduled for a Sept. 24 Jury trial in Hennepin County District Court for a single count of felony kidnapping.
A man's body was pulled from a pond just north of downtown Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon, said Lisa Kiava, a spokesperson for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. The man's identity was not immediately available.
Kiava said friends of the man went looking for him Wednesday and found him floating in the pond at 250 Van White Memorial Blvd., a spot where the group sometimes hung out, said Kiava. They called police at 12:25 p.m.
The Hennepin County Sheriff's office recovered the body. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office will release his name after completing an autopsy.
A Minneapolis education assistant has been put on a year’s probation and remains on unpaid leave after bringing a loaded handgun to Seward Montessori School the week after school shootings grabbed national attention in December.
The district identified the aide who brought the .357 Magnum gun to the school as Kathleen E. Scozzari, in response to a Star Tribune data practices law request. She is a 21-year district employee.
The 59-year-old northeast Minneapolis resident has been on leave without pay from her $19.90 per hour job since the Dec. 19 incident, in which her gun was recovered from her locked locker in a staff room. The incident occurred a week after the mass school shootings in Newton, Conn.
“She was immediately cooperative. She explained her motives to the police right away," said attorney Sarah MacGillis, who represented Scozzari. "Her principal concern was protecting the students.”
McGillis said that Scozzari pled guilty under a misdemeanor portion of the law generally banning dangerous weapons from schools as a felony. That's because she had a permit to carry a gun. Adults who have a state permit to carry a gun may bring the firearm to school only with written permission from a principal or other school authority.
Scozzari pleaded guilty to possession of a dangerous weapon in Hennepin County District Court last month. In addition to the probation, she was given a sentence of five days of community service. But MacGillis said Scozzari's conviction wil be vacated if she successfully completes probation.
According to the district, a final disposition hasn’t been reached in its investigation of her and she remains a district employee, although she is not on active status. Star Tribune calls to her household for comment were hung up on.
More recently, police were reported to be still investigating a May incident in which a firearm brought to Bethune Community School discharged on school grounds.
An attorney representing the parents of Terrence T. Franklin said Thursday it would have been uncharacteristic of the man shot to death by police on May 10 in a south Minneapolis basement to grab for the weapon of officers who cornered him.
"The kid was not suicidal," said attorney Michael Padden, who said he was retained by Walter Franklin and Sheila O'Neal to find out whart happened in an incident about which police have released little information officially.
Padden said that if the police rule that Franklin was shot after a struggle for a submachine gun that allegedly wounded two officers, as police sources suggest, "This family will not accept that."
Walter Franklin said at the Minneapolis Urban League that his son "Mookie" was shot five times in the back of his head. The family viewed the slain man's body after an autopsy, for which a report said Franklin died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Franklin was considered a burglary suspect by police during a 90-minute chase and search in which police swarmed the Uptown area before he was located in a basement. He has a lengthy criminal record.
"Sometimes people flee for dumb reasons," Padden said, before Walter Franklin added, "He fleed because he was scared."
Padden said he doesn't fault Police Chief Janee Harteau for not releasing the results of the department's investigation until it's complete, but he does fault the department for delaying interviews with some participating officers. Franklin's family members were interviewed five hours after the incident, he said.
Padden said he's "pretty cynical" about the department's actions, given previous cases he's been involved with that have alleged police misconduct. He suggested that one alternative explanation for the injuries to officers who cornered Franklin in chaotic circumstances in the basement is that officers were injured by riocheted shots they fired.
He said he wants to meet with Harteau once the departmental investigation is finished, assuming ground rules can be agreed to. "I'm going to have a lot of questions to ask," he said. Among them is whether the dead man, who would have turned 23 Thursday, had bite marks on his body to substantiate the police story that a K-9 diog was attacking him before he allegedly broke free and struggled for a submachine gun.
Police sources have said that Franklin was shot by two officers in the basement after he grabbed an officer's submachine gun and fired shots that injured two officers. The gun was on single-shot mode.
No one was injured Tuesday when a handgun inside a student's backpack discharged outside shortly before dismissal at Bethune Community School on the North Side, the school district said.
According to spokeswoman Rachel Hicks, the firing was considered accidental and happened around 3 p.m., or about 10 minutes before students are dismissed, so few students were nearby. Some may have heard the shot or witnessed smoke from the discharge, she said.
She said that an initial Internet report that the student was a second grader was incorrect. The district sent a mass e-mail to Bethune parents to notify them.
Hicks said that police were interviewing the parents of the student, school staff and a school bus driver who was nearby when the gun discharged. That caused the driver's route to run about 30 to 45 minutes late, she said.
Bethune is at 919 Emerson Av. N. and enrolled 339 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grades as of early April.
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