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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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.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—A 40-year-old northwest Minnesota man who deputies say was high on meth and drunk and who burglarized multiple fish houses on Lake Bemidji has been charged with two felonies. According to a criminal complaint: Beltrami County Deputy Josh Arhart discovered Christopher Robin Braun of Fosston briefly stopping at multiple fish houses on Lake Bemidji in the early morning hours of Jan. 30.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—A Bemidji man who sexually assaulted a vulnerable adult while he was employed at an area REM home was sentenced to 180 days in jail Monday, Jan. 29. Anthony Leonard Granger, 53, also received a stayed sentence of four years in prison. He will not have to spend any time in prison as long as he complies with the conditions of his probation for the next 15 years.
WALKER, Minn.—A Cass Lake, Minn., woman police say was present for the shooting death of Brandi Shank—also known as Brandi Strong—was charged Friday, Jan. 26, with two counts of aiding another who they say committed second-degree unintentional murder. A criminal complaint filed Friday accused Sara Renae LaRose, 41, of giving investigators "false or misleading" information about the November shooting. Brandon Joseph Roy, 24, of Cass Lake, was charged in November with second-degree unintentional murder in Shank's death.
MINNEAPOLIS—As football fans pack the Twin Cities ahead of the Super Bowl the next two weeks ahead of the Feb. 4 game, a group of Red Lake youths hopes to introduce the audience to its culture and seize the opportunity of a lifetime. The group of about 44 students is composed of members of Red Lake's Little Bear drum group and the Red Lake Elementary dance troupe. Both will perform during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.
RED LAKE, Minn.—The Red Lake Tribal Council voted Tuesday, Jan 9, to rescind a resolution accepting a land swap agreement with Enbridge Energy. The tribal council voted 5 to 3 to rescind the resolution that, in December 2015, accepted $18.5 million in exchange for a parcel of land about 16 miles south of the reservation. The land, located near West Four Legged Lake and Leonard, Minn., is home to Enbridge-owned oil pipelines that were installed by Lakehead Pipeline Co. Inc. before the reservation realized it owned the land.
RED LAKE, Minn.—The Red Lake Tribal Council voted Tuesday, Jan. 9, to rescind a resolution accepting a land swap agreement with Enbridge Energy. The tribal council voted 5 to 3 to rescind the resolution that, in December 2015, accepted $18.5 million in exchange for a parcel of land about 16 miles south of the reservation. The land, located near West Four Legged Lake and Leonard, Minn., is home to Enbridge-owned oil pipelines that were installed by Lakehead Pipeline Co. Inc. before the reservation realized it owned the land.
BEMIDJI, Minn.—For years, Sierra Charwood looked forward to the year she would finally be old enough to participate in Native STAND. Charwood's mother had worked for the program, which aims to educated Native American youth in Bemidji, Red Lake and Cass Lake about sexual health. Students have to be at least 14 to take part in the classes and, this year, Charwood was eligible.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Recent documents in the federal case against a former Bemidji Middle School assistant principal who used social media to prey on his students paint dramatically different pictures of Brandon Mark Bjerknes, and argue for dramatically different prison sentences. Bjerknes' attorney, Peter Wold, and the U.S. Attorney's Office both submitted arguments for their preferred sentences Jan. 2, a month before the former administrator is set to appear in federal court.
RED LAKE, Minn.—The Red Lake Tribal Council voted Wednesday, Jan. 3, to allow fishing on both Upper and Lower Red Lake, nearly two months after two fishermen disappeared there. The vote followed an hour-and-a-half meeting, during which tribal members, law enforcement personnel, Red Lake fisheries staff and others were invited to weigh in on whether fishing at the site of the anglers' disappearance should be permitted while the pair remain missing.