Minnesota roundup: Invasive silver carp found in St. Croix River; Former Duluth teacher sentenced on child porn, gun charges
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday confirmed the first capture of an invasive silver carp on the St. Croix River east of the Twin Cities.
The invasive species from Asia has been in the Mississippi River for several years but hadn't previously been confirmed in the St. Croix as the species continues its northward migration.
The silver carp was caught by a commercial angler near Prescott, Wis., as part of a DNR effort to watch for invasive species. One bighead carp, another invasive species from Asia, also was found in the St. Croix, which flows into the Mississippi near Prescott, although that species already had been confirmed in the St. Croix.
'Unsafe cigarette smoking' blamed for fire death in home fire
BADGER, Minn.—Authorities are blaming "unsafe cigarette smoking" for a fire that killed a Badger-area man early Monday, March 13.
Emergency responders were called at 3:50 a.m. Monday to a house fire near Badger. A woman and her juvenile son escaped the blaze unharmed, but 51-year-old Michael Jerome Downham died. His body was found in the destroyed home.
The fire is under investigation by the Minnesota Fire Marshal's and Roseau County Sheriff's offices, but a news release said the fire was caused by a cigarette.
Badger is located in northwest Minnesota, about 70 miles southeast of the international border crossing at Pembina, N.D.
Former teacher sentenced on child porn, gun charges
DULUTH, Minn.—A former schoolteacher who admitted to child sexual abuse in the 1990s has been sentenced to five years in prison — this time on child pornography and firearms charges.
Daniel Joseph Kludt, 56, received the sentence Thursday from Judge Dale Harris in State District Court in Duluth after pleading guilty in January to two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Authorities said they discovered thousands of images of child erotica and pornography on digital devices seized from Kludt's Saginaw home last fall, as well as approximately three dozen firearms that he was barred from possessing due to his earlier felony conviction.
A former elementary school teacher in Duluth and Superior, Wis., Kludt was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1998 after admitting to fondling a 13-year-old boy.
Ramsey County gets a break in 30-year-old murder case
ST. PAUL—An additional DNA fingernail test from the 1987 slaying of an 81-year-old St. Paul woman has resulted in two counts of second-degree murder against a man who was then just recently released from jail.
Michael Withers, 58, who is in prison for burglarizing a pair of homes in 2013, was charged Thursday, March 16, in Ramsey County for the murder of Lillian Kuller.
Kuller, a vivacious and refined former Ziegfeld Follies dancer, had lived in her home at 1290 Goodrich Ave. for decades. She was found dead in Feb. 1, 1987 of an "unexpected strangulation" that left detectives "baffled."
Although a window in Kuller's home was found open, detectives thought that no one could have broken in that way because dust on the sill didn't appear to have been disturbed.
Kuller was found on her bed, fully clothed, and her home ransacked.
But the Ramsey County attorney's office noted that on Jan. 26, 1987 — five days before Kuller was found dead — Withers pleaded guilty to three burglaries that took place less than a mile from Kuller's home. The latest, at 1072 Goodrich Ave., occurred earlier that January.
Withers was released from jail on Jan. 27, the day after he pleaded guilty.
Witness: Police-involved shooting not a domestic violence call
ST. PAUL—The situation before a man was fatally shot by St. Paul police officers on Wednesday was not a domestic violence incident but rather his girlfriend trying to get a gun away from him for his own safety, a witness said Thursday.
When police arrived early March 15, Cordale Handy's girlfriend and a friend of the couple pleaded with officers to understand that the gun was unloaded. Cordale Handy had fired the gun until it was empty into his apartment wall beforehand, the girlfriend told their friend. Building residents said rounds also went into an apartment below.
"(Responding officers) asked, 'Does he have a gun?' " said the friend, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons. "I said, 'Yes, the gun is unloaded.' They proceeded to go after him." The woman said she and Handy's girlfriend followed.
"I lost my voice screaming that the gun was unloaded and saying, 'Don't hurt him, don't hurt him,' " the woman said.
She said she saw a gun's flash and heard six shots on a Dayton's Bluff street near their apartment building. Two officers had fired and Handy was hit, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The BCA, which is investigating the case, said the early-morning call was categorized as "a domestic situation involving physical violence."
Community groups Communities United Against Police Brutality, Justice for Marcus Golden, Blue Lies Matter, St. Paul for Justice and Black Lives Matter St. Paul — said they are "not going to accept an inadequate investigation into this incident."