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 — Staff in Minnesota's Ninth Judicial District will soon handle jury selection for the entire state, thanks to a new judicial branch initiative. The statewide project began as an attempt to address personnel levels in some of the state's smallest counties, where there often is not enough work to justify multiple full-time court administration staff. The judicial branch believed that by consolidating certain court-related jobs and basing those who performed them in smaller counties, it could increase the number of staff at those courthouses.
BEMIDJI — After 20 years as a community fixture, the Bemidji Citizen Patrol is calling it quits. Representatives of the volunteer patrol, which worked with the Bemidji Police Department, announced at Monday's City Council meeting that it will end its services at the end of the month. A news release said the group is disbanding due to a lack of new membership and "exhaustion" of current members.
RED LAKE—Red Lake's Tribal Council officially established a protocol Tuesday, Aug. 8, to be used when banishing tribal members who sell drugs. The council unanimously voted to approve the new process—which was created in response to the opioid epidemic sweeping the reservation and the state as a whole—during its regular monthly meeting. Banishment has been a potential consequence facing Red Lake drug dealers since 2003, according to the tribe's legal adviser Michelle Paquin, but a protocol was never put in place.
BEMIDJI, Minn.— A Bemidji man who escaped from custody last week was captured Tuesday evening in St. Cloud. According to a release sent out at 8:29 p.m. from Chief Deputy Ernie Beitel of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, Keanu Joseph Major, 25, was apprehended in St. Cloud and more details of his arrest will be released Wednesday. Major escaped custody on Friday from Sanford Bemidji Medical Center after a corrections officer allowed him to use the restroom, according to a search warrant filed Monday.
BEMIDJI—A Park Rapids man was charged with a felony Monday after allegedly taking a woman to Bemidji so she could have sex for money. David Cruz Velazquez, 44, was also charged this spring with one count of soliciting a child or someone believed to be a child through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct. According to court documents, Velazquez was caught in September after allegedly soliciting a police officer he believed to be a child in an online sting by the Bemidji Police Department.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — A 10-year-old Red Lake, Minn., girl who was seriously injured in a school bus crash last week has been released from the hospital, her mother said. Jo Cobenais said her daughter Amya was on the bus May 3 when it was hit by another car north of Bemidji. Amya sustained a lacerated spleen, Cobenais said, and blood flow to one of the 10-year-old's kidneys was cut off.
CASS LAKE—About 3 miles from the Cass Lake Rest Area, multiple oil pipelines lie partially buried beneath reeds, cattails and water. Every so often, portions of the lines can be seen by those who know what to look for, and are willing to risk a trip into the soggy swamp. About 30 people gathered in Cass Lake Sunday afternoon, hoping to set eyes on the controversial Line 3, an oil pipeline owned by Canadian energy company Enbridge.
As Marchello Cimmarusti was led from a courtroom to the Beltrami County Jail on Thursday, members of Rose Downwind's family shouted after him. "I hope you die," a member of the crowd yelled, before Cimmarusti returned to the jail. Cimmarusti, who killed Downwind in October 2015 and pleaded guilty April 18 to second-degree intentional murder, was sentenced to 35 years in prison during the tense and tearful hearing. Six of Downwind's family members gave victim impact statements, describing the hole Downwind's death has left in their lives.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — A Bemidji man whose foster daughter drowned in a shower pleaded guilty Friday, Jan. 20, to one count of second-degree manslaughter—culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk. While testifying, Nathan Daniel Jackson, 39, said he had used methamphetamine at 4 a.m. the day of 2-year-old Kira Friedman's death, and that he did not know when he had last slept.