Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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BAGLEY, Minn. — A Clearwater County man who admitted to molesting a 7-year-old girl and to possessing child pornography will spend 80 days in the county jail there. Andrew George Damann Jr., 37, was sentenced Wednesday, Oct. 4, for one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of possession of pornographic work involving minors. A judge sentenced him to three years in prison, which was stayed for 10 years. If Damann follows all conditions, he will not have to spend any time in prison.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Bemidji Middle School's former assistant principal, who posed as a teenage boy online in order to have sexual conversations with students and other children, pleaded guilty to four felonies in state district court Wednesday, Oct. 4. Brandon Mark Bjerknes, 35, entered guilty pleas for four counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing sexual conduct with a child less than a week after he appeared in federal court, where he also pleaded guilty to similar charges.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—The Beltrami County Jail violated state rules regarding inmate checks in the 2016 death of a man in custody there, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Tony Edward May, Jr., 26, of Red Lake, died Aug. 11, 2016, at the jail. An autopsy report provided by May's family lists "possible sudden cardiac death" as the cause. May had a heart defect known as myocardial bridging.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Nearly a year after Cass Lake, Minn., teen Jeremy Jourdain disappeared, his family hopes that starting their search from scratch will help bring the 18-year-old home. Jourdain's aunt Alex Tanner and other members of the teen's family have asked for the community's help Saturday, Sept. 30, during a new search. Jourdain was last seen in Bemidji's Nymore neighborhood on Halloween night.
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.