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Minneapolis Criminal Law Blog

What you should know about drug-induced homicide

It is no secret that there is an opioid crisis in the United States. People from all walks of life are falling prey to addiction, and its consequences are leaving families and communities devastated in the wake. Understandably, there has been a push for crackdown, but the resultant laws may be doing more harm than good. Drug-induced homicide laws, for example, are a questionable response to the drug crisis.

According to Rolling Stone, these laws extend liability for deaths caused by overdose to individuals who supplied or administered the drugs. Of course, there are legal issues surrounding proof of such actions, but the following are some other reasons such laws may be problematic. 

Minnesota man charged with attempting to murder a witness

Federal law enforcement authorities with the U.S. Attorney's Office report that a 29-year-old Fond du Lac man was arraigned on several charges after he allegedly attempted to murder another person for testifying in a court proceeding. The man was arraigned on Aug. 24 in U.S. District Court.

According to the indictment, the man attempted to kill the witness with a gun in October of 2017. The U.S. Attorney's Office reports that the man is a convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing or owning firearms.

Two Minnesota men receive sentences for sex crimes

Minnesota residents may be interested to learn that two men, both of whom were arrested in Bemidji as result of online stings, received sentences for sex crimes. Both of the rulings occurred on August 9.

One of the defendants, a 41-year-old man from Littlefork, was found guilty on June 29 in a jury trial. He was convicted of one count of soliciting a child or someone who was perceived to be a child by using electronic communication to take part in sexual conduct. He was also convicted of one count of taking part in electronic communication that pertained to sexual behavior with a child. The sentence he received was three years in prison, with credit for the 195 days he had spent incarcerated since his arrest.

Man accused of killing prison guard awaits grand jury indictment

A male inmate accused of killing a corrections officer at a Stillwater prison on July 18 could face first-degree murder charges from prosecutors. The 42-year-old defendant appeared for a brief hearing on Aug. 3 at the Washington County District Court where he has already been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree assault.

The prosecutor said that state law supported the first-degree murder charge because the man had allegedly killed a corrections officer. He expects the grand jury to indict the man on the enhanced charge. The prosecutor said that he had sufficient evidence to take the case to trial. He added that the investigation had not identified a motive for the attack.

Woman accused of attempted murder

A Minnesota woman received an attempted murder charge on July 23 after she was accused of slitting a man's throat at his home. The assault reportedly occurred at the man's Laporte residence on the afternoon of July 21.

According to reports, the 32-year-old woman and the man had gotten into an argument on the day of the incident. The man said that he was in a recliner chair and talking on the phone when he felt the woman come up behind him. He claimed that she reached around the recliner and cut his throat from left to right. At this point, he allegedly asked the woman what she had done to him. She responded by apologizing before attempting to stab the man in the stomach. He was able to knock the knife out of her hand. At this point, she allegedly grabbed the weapon and left the residence. The man was then able to contact the authorities.

Man charged with murder after running over couple

On July 2, a 36-year-old Minnesota man was charged with two counts of murder after allegedly running over two pedestrians in Eagan in June. The decedents, a married couple, were aged 58 and 74.

According to media accounts, officers from the Eagan Police Department responded to a report of a medical emergency just before 10 p.m. on June 28. Once on the scene, the officers found a man and a woman who were having difficulty breathing. Both individuals were taken to Regions Hospital for emergency care, but they later died as the result of blunt force trauma. Witnesses told authorities that the decedents were run over by a silver van. Officers soon found a Dodge Caravan matching the description. It had a cracked windshield and front-end damage. The woman's cellphone was found under one of the windshield wipers.

Charges dropped against Vadnais Heights man implicated in son's alleged school threat

By CHAO XIONG, STAR TRIBUNE
June 28, 2018 - 8:27 PM

Prosecutors have dismissed all charges against a Vadnais Heights man whose son allegedly threatened to shoot up his school after the Parkland, Fla., school killings.

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Attorney Bruce Rivers said he learned Thursday that the Ramsey County Attorney's Office dropped the case against his client, Christopher Stowe, after lab results showed that authorities had misidentified a gun taken from his home as a fully automatic weapon.

"It was a classic case of government overreach," Rivers said. "They filed charges without having the evidence to prove the elements of the crime."

The case against Stowe, his wife, Lisa Stowe, and the couple's then-13-year-old son - who were all arrested and charged in early March - focused public attention on how police and schools deal with alleged threats.

The boy, who family members have said is autistic, had allegedly threatened to shoot classmates at the Academy for Sciences & Agriculture High School in Maplewood just weeks after 17 people were killed on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

The County Attorney's Office filed notice Wednesday that the case was being dismissed because one gun found in the family's home was a semi-automatic weapon and not a fully automatic weapon.

"After further investigation requested by the prosecution, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office determined that the evidence did not support any felony level charges against Christopher Stowe," county attorney spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein said in a written statement.

Man and woman facing murder charges in Minnesota

Two people have been charged with aiding and abetting a homicide in a murder case in Hitterdal. The allegations follow a missing person's report for a man from Wahpeton who was last seen on May 20 in the presence of the two people who were arrested, a 39-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman.

The man and the woman were with the missing man at a farm property in Hitterdal, according to court documents. The documents show that the 34-year-old woman is distancing herself from the killing of the man, indicating that the 39-year-old man arrested with her was responsible for the homicide. The documents say that the 39-year-old man came around a corner on the farm and hit the missing man with a yard rake handle and an ax in the head. The woman says that she was asked to hit the missing man with the ax as well, but swung and missed.

Three Minnesota men indicted on murder charges

On June 8, a Minnesota grand jury indicted three men for allegedly shooting and killing a man in February. The incident took place in Benton County on Feb. 16.

According to authorities, the murder took place after the defendants, ages 20, 26 and 37, went to Checkers Bar in St. Paul with the decedent and another man. Approximately an hour later, all five men left the bar and went to the 3400 block of Old Creek Place in Sauk Rapids. At some point, the defendants allegedly shot and killed the decedent, age 25. The other man was also shot, but he survived after undergoing emergency surgery at a local hospital.

Minnesota woman indicted on first degree murder charges

A resident of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota named Lois Riess recently faced indictment in Florida for first degree murder with a firearm; grand theft and criminal use of personal identification of a deceased individual $5,000 or more; and grand theft of a motor vehicle. Although this arrest stems from Riess' murder of a Florida woman, Minnesota authorities attempted to find her for suspicion of murdering her husband, David Riess, earlier this year. 

Riess apparently fled Minnesota after allegedly murdering her husband. When in Florida, she tracked down her lookalike and assumed her identity. In April, Riess waived her right to extradition. In the event she had elected to fight extradition, then both Minnesota and Florida authorities would be responsible for providing proof the woman in question was actually Riess. 

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