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AROUND MINNESOTA: Yankee pitcher's widow sues Cirrus ... Officer cleared in fatal shooting ... Wounded officer out of hospital ... more

Yankee pitcher's widow sues Cirrus NEW YORK -- The wife of a New York Yankees pitcher who died when his small plane crashed into an apartment building in 2006 has testified their son keeps his dad's uniform hanging in his bedroom and talks about ...

Yankee pitcher's widow sues Cirrus

NEW YORK -- The wife of a New York Yankees pitcher who died when his small plane crashed into an apartment building in 2006 has testified their son keeps his dad's uniform hanging in his bedroom and talks about him every day.

Melanie Lidle testified Friday at a trial in which she's seeking millions of dollars in damages from the maker of the Cirrus SR-20 flown by her husband, Cory Lidle, and an instructor. She said the pitcher had a close bond with his son, who's now 10.

She also testified about learning her husband had died in the Manhattan crash when she stepped off a plane in Los Angeles in October 2006 and saw her sister and brother-in-law.

Duluth-based plane manufacturer Cirrus Design Corp. and safety regulators blame pilot error for the crash.


Cirrus also has a plant in Grand Forks.

Officer cleared in fatal shooting

ZUMBROTA -- Investigators have cleared a Zumbrota policeman in the fatal shooting of a man who shot and wounded his estranged wife.

The investigation concluded that officer Robert Jarrett's use of deadly force was justified.

Jarrett was called Jan. 31 to keep the peace as the wife of Thomas Robinson, 37, moved out of their home. Robinson pulled a gun and shot his wife, Rebecca. The officer then shot and killed Thomas Robinson.

Rebecca Robinson is expected to make a full recovery.

Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster reviewed the case to avoid a conflict of interest for Goodhue County.

Wounded officer out of hospital


MINNEAPOLIS -- A Lino Lakes police officer hit by a stray bullet at a shooting range has been released from the hospital.

Officer Chad Schirmers, 26, was training May 5 with two other officers in Coon Rapids when the bullet hit him. Investigators said the bullet ricocheted and hit him in the stomach.

Schirmers was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center after the accident and underwent surgery.

Investigators don't know where the bullet came from.

Group tries to save giant bur oak

FAIRMONT -- A giant bur oak tree may be cut down unless concerned residents pay a pricey sum to save it.

Mike Cervantes and a group of volunteers are trying to save the 150-year-old tree tucked behind William Budd Elementary School if they can raise $170,000 to have it successfully moved.

The tree has become part of the school's logo and motto: "Great oaks from little acorns grow," but the school moved, and the site will become Fairmont's new water treatment plant.


A Texas firm said it can move the 450,000-pound tree and promises a 98 percent chance of survival, but many can't see spending $170,000 in a time of cost cutting.

Private donations have reached $50,000. Cervantes needs to raise the rest by Monday.

Ex-city manager is found guilty

ALBERT LEA -- Former Albert Lea City Manager Jim Norman, 57, said he plans to appeal a jury's guilty verdict on seven counts tied to misusing the city-issued credit card for personal purchases.

Norman said it's his belief justice wasn't served after a weeklong trial that ended Friday.

Six of the seven counts were felonies, and Norman will face sentencing within 45 days.

Prosecutors said Norman made purchases on the city credit card for feminine hygiene products, pet supplies, a refrigerator, women's shoes and home garbage service.

Norman's attorney, Peggy Rockow, argued the state failed to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt on each count.


Suspect may be serial bank robber

HAMPTON -- Authorities are investigating whether a serial bank robber may have struck again in the southern Twin Cities area.

The Dakota County sheriff's office said a gunman held up Merchants Bank in Hampton about 9:45 a.m. Friday. He ran away with an undisclosed amount of money. Authorities believe he may have left the area in a white mid-size Chrysler-style car.

The suspect is described as a white man wearing a ski mask, blue jeans and a blue windbreaker.

Sheriff Dave Bellows said authorities are investigating whether the robber may be the same one who recently struck banks and credit unions in the south metro.

Semi crash closes I-94; drivers hurt

ALEXANDRIA -- About 5 a.m. Friday, a semi-truck tractor and trailer traveling west on Interstate 94 near Evansville rear-ended another semi and jackknifed.

Both east and westbound lanes of I-94 were blocked when another semi traveling west crossed the median and rolled trying to avoid the crash scene, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.


The driver of the jackknifed semi was taken to Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria.

The driver in the rollover blocking eastbound I-94 traffic, Steven Thordarson, 59, of Casselton, N.D., was taken to Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls.

Both victims' injuries were reported to be non-serious. The driver of the semi that was rear-ended continued to the Ashby exit.

To avoid the crash, a westbound charter bus drove into a north ditch.

No injuries were reported from any bus occupants.

The bus was undamaged and required only a tow truck removal, according to the patrol.

Another eastbound vehicle landed in the ditch after it attempted to go around the rollover site.

Westbound I-94 traffic reopened about 7:30 a.m., and eastbound traffic reopened about 10:30 a.m., according to the patrol.


No alcohol, drugs found in driver

WASHBURN, Wis. -- The Bayfield County sheriff's office said no alcohol or drugs were found in the blood of a 16-year-old boy who said he fatally struck a cross-country skier on Lake Superior in February.

The boy went to police several hours after the skier's body was found.

He identified himself as the driver who struck Bjorn Erik Norgaard, 23, of Dundas, Minn.

A snowmobiler found Norgaard's body on Feb. 20. Norgaard, a 2010 graduate of Northland College, was skiing to the home of college friends when he was struck.

The driver did not stop or immediately report the accident.

Authorities have not released the boy's name. Because he is a juvenile, the case has been referred to the Bayfield County Department of Human Services.

Twin Cities-Duluth rail line gets funds

ST. PAUL -- A proposed high-speed rail line between Minneapolis and Duluth is getting $5 million from the federal government.

Gov. Mark Dayton's office announced the award from the U.S. Department of Transportation this past week as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled $2 billion in grants to high-speed rail projects in 15 states.

Dayton's administration has been seeking the money for the Northern Express Line, which would connect the two cities with trains running at 110 mph.

The money will pay to finish engineering and environmental work for the proposed line.

Tall ships to visit port this summer

DULUTH -- Another armada of tall ships will sail into the Duluth harbor this summer.

Visit Duluth said three tall ships will visit July 15-18 for the Duluth Music and Maritime Festival.

The Pride of Baltimore II and the U.S. Brig Niagara will make return appearances.

The Lynx will be in Duluth for the first time.

Duluth's next major tall ships festival isn't scheduled until 2013.

But Gene Shaw of Visit Duluth said things fell into place to host the trio this summer.

All three ships will host Sail Aways, which take paying passengers out on Lake Superior for two or three hours. Tickets go on sale Monday.

Last summer's tall ships event had nine ships and drew about 225,000 people to Duluth's waterfront.

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