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.—The Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by state prosecutors Monday, April 23, paving the way for four anti-pipeline activists to argue during trial that they had no choice but to disrupt a pipeline transporting tar sands oil. The appellate court said the four from out-of-state can use the threat of climate change as a defense for their actions.
BEMIDJI—A Red Lake man who the FBI thinks was involved in an armed robbery and shooting in November is back in custody. Derek Jon Paddy, 22, was booked at the Beltrami County Jail at 5:07 p.m. Thursday, April 19, the roster shows. He was charged in federal court March 29 with four crimes stemming from two separate incidents: first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling, robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. He was also wanted for Beltrami County warrants for simple robbery and first-degree burglary.
BEMIDJI—A pursuit of two people by the Bemidji Police Department ended with the suspect's car in the Mississippi River on Thursday afternoon. According to a news release from the Bemidji Police Department, the high-speed chase began after officers received a report at about 1:03 p.m. of an assault happening inside a vehicle traveling north on Paul Bunyan Drive near the Mississippi River bridge. An officer in the area tried to conduct a traffic stop, but the driver fled west on Fifth Street Northwest at about 95 mph.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—A Bemidji man convicted of aiding an offender in connection with the death of Rose Downwind is entitled to a new sentencing, according to a recently released Minnesota Court of Appeals opinion. A jury found in October 2016 that Brandon Rossbach, 33, helped Downwind's killer—her former boyfriend Marchello Cimmarusti—burn and bury her body in a shallow ditch northwest of Bemidji. Cimmarusti pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder in April 2016 and was later sentenced to 35 years in prison.
BEMIDJI—A Bloomington, Minn., man was charged with a first-degree drug possession Monday after Red Lake police found almost 28 grams of heroin in his pocket. According to a criminal complaint, Red Lake police were searching a house at the 15300 block of Ladota Avenue in Redby on Friday when they encountered Russell Kazell Reed, Jr., 23, and Iyanna King, 20, of Brooklyn Park.
RED LAKE, Minn.—The Red Lake Tribal Council voted Tuesday, March 13, to remove Enbridge-owned oil pipelines from its land. The unanimous vote came two months after the council agreed to rescind a resolution accepting a land swap agreement with the Canadian energy company. That Jan. 9 vote paved the way for Tuesday's action, according to Red Lake Representative Robert Smith.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—Before Tantoo Cardinal left her childhood home near Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, to attend high school, she spent her time taking in the nature around her. "I could walk in the bush behind my grandmother and know that there's a whole world out there that's connected to sound and the wind and energy," Cardinal said Tuesday, March 13. "That's where I learned how to act, is from walking behind my grandmother."
BEMIDJI, Minn.—Leech Lake's Emergency Medical Servics and the addiction treatment program called Face It TOGETHER continued their efforts to prevent opioid overdoses Tuesday, March 6, with two trainings aimed at Bemidji State University students. The hourlong events, held at the university, covered general information on addiction and services, as well as the overdose reversal drug nalaxone, also known as Narcan. Students were encouraged to rethink the way they saw addiction, then taught how to use Narcan to reverse an overdose.
RED LAKE—Longtime Red Lake Tribal Council member Richard Barrett Sr. has died. According to an announcement posted to the council's Facebook page on Monday afternoon, Feb. 12, Barrett, 75, is survived by his wife and other family members. Barrett was first elected to the tribal council in 2002, following the death of his predecessor. He served the community as the Little Rock representative for 16 years. Roman Stately Jr., who grew up with Barrett and represents the Red Lake district, described Barrett as a "gentleman."
BEMIDJI—An emotional and largely symbolic sentencing hearing brought legal proceedings against Brandon Bjerknes to a close Thursday, Feb. 8. Even Ninth District Judge Paul Benshoof described his sentence as "moot" during the hearing, shortly before sentencing Bjerknes—the former Bemidji Middle School assistant principal who posed as a teenager online in order to have sexual conversations with children—to a total of seven years and six months in prison.