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Fargo police cite insufficient evidence to charge 'person of interest' in fatal stabbing

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FARGO - Jazzmin Bauer and her cousin had heard the two men argue several times before in the efficiency apartment next door. But this time, when they heard the woman caught between the men screaming early Sunday morning, "we knew something was wrong," she said.

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Minutes later, Bauer and her cousin were escorting the woman's two small children away from the apartment as the father of at least one of the kids lay bleeding with a stab wound in the doorway.

The woman's live-in boyfriend and alleged stabber remained at the scene, saying how the stabbing victim had hit him with a brick, Bauer said.

Butch Bauman, 52, who also lives in an adjacent apartment and was home at the time of the stabbing, said he, too, heard loud arguing and stuff being thrown around for about half an hour.

"All I heard was a bunch of yelling and screaming and cussing and 'where's my cellphone?' and that's it," Bauman said.

When the smoke cleared Monday, Fargo police released the man detained in connection with the incident that left 28-year-old Tremaine Lynn Settles dead.

Lt. Joel Vettel said the man who'd been described as a "person of interest" was released after several hours of questioning.

Vettel wouldn't confirm whether police believe it was a case of self-defense, but said, "We didn't feel we had enough evidence to charge him with a crime."

The case remains under investigation, and police reports will eventually be forwarded to the Cass County state's attorney for consideration, he said.

Settles, who had no permanent address, was pronounced dead at the scene at 2608 Pacific Drive S. around 2 a.m. Sunday, Vettel said.

An autopsy is scheduled for this morning, with results expected by the end of the week, Vettel said.

Dispatchers received four emergency calls to the address, the first at 1:38 a.m. about two men fighting, Vettel said. Officers arrived within eight minutes and found Settles with a stab wound to his torso, he said.

Vettel said the man detained was cooperative with investigators, who didn't find probable cause to arrest him.

"Just because it's a homicide doesn't necessarily mean somebody is going to be charged with a crime or go to jail," he said.

Settles and the other man knew each other, and the stabbing wasn't a random act of violence, Vettel said. Police haven't released a motive.

A neighbor in the five-unit apartment building said, and Valley News Live reported citing court documents, that the woman involved in the incident was Rebecca L. Genia, 29, who was arrested by police Thursday in a prostitution sting at a Fargo motel.

Vettel said police questioned at least one person who witnessed the fight and others who were there for the aftermath.

A Steamatic crew was cleaning the inside of the efficiency unit Monday afternoon. No one answered the door when a reporter knocked shortly after 5 p.m. Monday.

Settles doesn't have any family in the F-M area that police are aware of, Vettel said.

A Facebook post Sunday on the page of Jasmine Settles read, "R.I.P to my older brother Tremaine Settles! You will be missed ... . I love you so much! We weep for you but we know your now in a better place. This is tragic ... ." Jasmine Settles didn't immediately reply to a Facebook message seeking comment.

Court records and Forum archives show Settles was convicted of felony theft for robbing a dollar store in Wahpeton in September 2005. His address was listed as St. Paul in a case in Ramsey County, Minn., that resulted in a disorderly conduct conviction and an active warrant later being issued for his arrest for a probation violation in October 2006.

Settles pleaded guilty on Jan. 3 in Cass County to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge and was sentenced to fines and fees and time served. Charges of child neglect or abuse and simple assault were dismissed in the case.

Bauer, 18, said she was born in Fargo but lived for 17 years in "some of the worst neighborhoods" of Minneapolis before moving back to Fargo a month and a half ago.

"I've never seen a homicide, and that was just crazy," she said, adding that she still thinks her Fargo neighborhood is safe. "It's just an odd case, I guess."

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