No bail for man charged with homicide | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published July 19, 2013, 12:00 AM

No bail for man charged with homicide

The man accused of gunning down Toriano Dawen Cooper last year in Superior is being held without bail in the Douglas County Jail.

By: Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram

The man accused of gunning down Toriano Dawen Cooper last year in Superior is being held without bail in the Douglas County Jail.

Tiawain Albert Johnson, 21, of Chicago made an initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court on Wednesday. He faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide.

District Attorney Dan Blank requested no bail be set in the case based on the serious nature of the crime, the need to protect the public and Johnson’s lack of ties to the area.

Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy denied bail, noting that the complaint alleges very serious conduct, including gun use, pre-planning and fleeing the area.

Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O’Neill represents Johnson and disagrees with the decision.

“I think every person is entitled to reasonable bail” based on their individual circumstances, he said outside the courtroom. “So I think holding someone without bail simply is not reasonable.”

Bail was recently denied to another Douglas County murder suspect, 41-year-old Juan Leonardo Padilla. Padilla is accused of fatally shooting Terence Rodney Luukkonen on May 23 in the parking lot of Genesis Attachments on Connors Point in Superior.

“It’s real unfortunate that we’ve got two horrible homicide situations going at once now,” Blank said after Wednesday’s hearing.

Cooper, 36, had been working on a car about 10 a.m. Jan. 15, 2012, in front of 1901 N. 12th St., when the fatal shooting took place. He managed to make it into the house, where he died from his injuries.

Developments from the investigation led to charges against Johnson, who had been living in Superior at the time of the shooting, but returned to the Chicago area after the homicide.

According to the criminal complaint, the shooting was in retaliation for an armed robbery in which Johnson was the victim. Information gathered by police suggested Cooper, who’s street name was “Snap,” either orchestrated or participated in the robbery that relieved Johnson of anywhere between $5,000 and $7,000 in cash and drugs according to witness statements.

Johnson was aware of Cooper’s identity, and the shooting is believed to be an act of retaliation for the robbery, according to a news release issued in June by Superior Deputy Chief Nicholas Alexander.

Several witnesses told police Johnson had bragged about catching up with the guy who arranged the robbery before he left the area. Two witnesses only identified by initials in the criminal complaint told police Johnson showed them a .380 caliber handgun that he had used.

Johnson was identified by witnesses in a photo lineup as the person who admitted to fatally shooting Cooper, according to the criminal complaint.

Blank said the case is strong, but there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle to fit together. The investigation into the case is ongoing, he said, especially now that Johnson has been located.

“It appears on the face to be a strong case, but there’s no such thing as an open and shut case,” Blank said. “So we’re going to work to make it stronger.”

No family members attended Wednesday’s hearing. Blank said his office has only been in touch with one of Cooper’s relatives, a brother who lives out of town.

“But we still have to stand up for a homicide,” Blank said. “Whether or not family or friends are coming to the court demanding justice, we’ve got to do it anyway.”

A preliminary hearing was set for 2 p.m. Tuesday in front of Judge Kelly Thimm.

via No bail for man charged with homicide | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth Man Charged with Slitting Another Man’s Throat | FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT

Duluth Man Charged with Slitting Another Man’s Throat

FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT

via Duluth Man Charged with Slitting Another Man’s Throat | FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT.

Duluth youth coach charged with using player for sex, child porn | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published June 27, 2013, 04:03 PM

Duluth youth coach charged with using player for sex, child porn

A Salvation Army youth basketball coach was arrested Tuesday after a private forensic firm alerted police to child pornography found on a work computer.

By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune

A Salvation Army youth basketball coach who appeared in televised announcements promoting the benefits of the program has been charged with twice sexually assaulting a preteen boy and in a separate incident photographing him in sexual positions.

Peter Jay Olson, 47, was arraigned Thursday in State District Court in Duluth on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, possessing pictorial representation of minors and use of a minor in a sexual performance. All four crimes are felonies. The guideline prison sentence for a first-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction is 12 years in prison for someone with no prior criminal record. Olson has no prior criminal record.

Olson was also a Lake Park Little League coach in eastern Duluth and his alleged victim was one of his players. According to the criminal complaint, Olson has admitted to investigators that he sexually assaulted the boy in a Salvation Army office and at the defendant’s home.

The complaint alleges that Olson acknowledged touching the boy sexually and performing a sex act upon him twice. He said that he believed the incidents happened between 2010 and 2011. He said he knew the boy and his family through the Salvation Army and when he became the boy’s baseball coach.

Police say Olson admitted that he used a timer on his digital camera to capture himself and the boy in sexual positions at his hunting shack, but denied that they engaged in actual sexual activity at that time.

St. Louis County prosecutor Rebekka Stumme told Judge Eric Hylden that Olson is a threat to public safety and is also a risk to flee because of the serious potential consequences if found guilty. She asked the court to set bail at $400,000 and to order the defendant to have no contact with minors.

Hylden set bail at $400,000 with no conditions, or $200,000 with conditions that he not leave the state, obey all laws, and have no contact with minors. Olson didn’t immediately make bail and was being held Thursday evening in the St. Louis County Jail.

A Salvation Army spokeswoman said Olson started coaching in the Rookie Basketball program in 1988 and was terminated in November. A Lake Park Little League spokesman said Olson was a longtime coach there, but abruptly resigned earlier this month without explanation.

The charges against the defendant were brought after an investigation by the Lake Superior Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, based at the Superior Police Department, Duluth police and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

In a prepared statement, Salvation Army Public Relations Director Annette Bauer said that the agency received a report about Olson from a parent with a child in one of its programs and “immediately launched an internal investigation and immediately suspended Mr. Olson the same day.”

Bauer said the Salvation Army secured Olson’s office, hired professional investigators and specialists in computer forensics and began interviews.

When inappropriate materials were found on data storage disks owned by Olson, the Salvation Army notified the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis. Olson was then fired.

An assistant U.S. Attorney contacted the internet crimes against children task force saying that information had been received from an employee of Computer Forensic Services that child pornography had been found on a desktop computer used by Olson while employed by the Salvation Army.

A total of 212 images of suspected child pornography were found on Olson’s computer. They were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Law Enforcement Services Portal. None of the children have been identified.

“Our primary concern is always for the well-being of the children in our programs and The Salvation Army is committed to providing a safe environment for them,” Bauer said in her statement. “Our staff is trained to recognize risk factors and expected to report any concerns or incidents. It is because of this program we were alerted to concerns and immediately acted upon them.

“The Salvation Army has one of the most strict child protection policies in the nation and that includes background checks and significant training for staff and volunteers.”

Another man who coached and refereed in the Salvation Army Rookie Basketball Association from 2008-12 has also been accused of sexual assault. Wendell Anthony Greene, 37, is currently facing charges that he sexually assaulted three girls. Two of the girls said that Greene had been their basketball coach. Greene also coached seventh-grade girls at Duluth East High School in 2007-08, sixth-grade girls at Hermantown High School in 2009 and Duluth Amateur Youth Basketball Association from 2010-12.

Duluth attorney Eric Beyer was serving as Lake Park Little League spokesman on the Olson allegations. Beyer said the league was notified of Olson’s arrest Tuesday night and an e-mail was sent out to all the parents of the Little Leaguers first thing Wednesday.

The Lake Park Little League Board of Directors issued a statement saying that annual background checks are completed for all of its coaches using Little League International recommended procedures. No complaints of ethical violations were ever leveled against Olson, the board said.

“Lake Park Little League is both shocked and deeply saddened by today’s allegations,” its statement said. “We offer our sympathy and support for any victims. Lake Park Little League places the highest emphasis on player safety, while allowing our players to develop sports and team skills. … We will work diligently to continue that tradition.”

Duluth police Lt. Mike Ceynowa said the investigation into Olson continues. He asks anyone with relevant information to contact police at (218) 730-5070.

“I don’t want to alarm the public, but oftentimes there are more victims in cases like this,” Ceynowa said. “First Witness (Child Abuse Resource Center, 727-8353) is obviously a resource for families if they have any concerns about how to talk to their children about this if they’ve been involved with either of these organizations or have had contact with Mr. Olson. We want to investigate this completely and fully and make sure that we are identifying potential victims so that they can get the help that they need.”

via Duluth youth coach charged with using player for sex, child porn | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth man charged in April shooting in Lincoln Park | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published June 27, 2013, 12:00 AM

Duluth man charged in April shooting in Lincoln Park

A warrant was issued Wednesday accusing a 20-year-old Duluth man of shooting and critically wounding another man in an apparent dispute over the theft of a bottle of alcohol at an April birthday party in a Lincoln Park residence.

By: Mark Stodghill, Associated Press

A warrant was issued Wednesday accusing a 20-year-old Duluth man of shooting and critically wounding another man in an apparent dispute over the theft of a bottle of alcohol at an April birthday party in a Lincoln Park residence.

James Earl Wilkinson is charged with first- and second-degree assault in a warrant filed in State District Court.

Nathan James Niemi, 27, formerly of Cloquet, was found lying inside the entry of a residence at 2216 W. Second St. at 3 a.m. on April 27. He was shot once in the center of his chest just below his sternum. Responding officers were unsure if he was alive when they arrived.

According to medical records, Niemi required invasive surgical procedures to repair the bullet wound. Bullet fragments remain lodged in his right iliacus muscle, a flat, triangular muscle that lies deep within the pelvis.

Duluth police said Wilkinson is being held in the Douglas County Jail for unrelated charges and will now go through the extradition process.

According to the criminal complaint, when police were able to interview the victim two days after the shooting, he was initially reluctant to provide information. Later that day, he asked officers to return to the hospital.

The following day, investigators presented Niemi a photographic lineup of suspects. He said that the fourth person in the lineup had eyes that were familiar but didn’t have the correct facial structure of the person who shot him. Police reviewed the photograph and determined that Wilkinson was distorting his face by sucking in his cheeks, the complaint alleges.

Niemi told investigators that the person who shot him was wearing a red Pelle Pelle jacket with a black and red hat.

Police interviewed people who had been at the birthday party and the general consensus was that there was a disagreement over an attempt to steal a bottle of alcohol, and a 6-foot-3, 22- to 24-year-old black man with long dreadlocks and a red and black jacket hit Niemi in the face.

After the scuffle, witnesses said they heard a bang and could smell gun powder.

One witness told police he saw Wilkinson shoot the gun inside the house. A second witness said he heard two shots fired and saw Wilkinson shoot Niemi. He said Wilkinson admitted to shooting the victim.

The second witness also said he had been with Wilkinson earlier in the night and saw him in possession of a handgun. He said that he had been with the defendant at a bar.

Police obtained surveillance video from the bar and Wilkinson was seen on the video wearing a red and black Pelle Pelle jacket.

Eleven days after the shooting, police showed Niemi another photo lineup with Facebook photographs and no other identifying information. Niemi immediately picked out Wilkinson’s photo and said, “That’s him all day long, that’s J-Dub for you, man. That’s the shooter. That’s who I got into it with. That’s who pulled the trigger.”

The victim has his own criminal history. According to court records, Niemi has convictions for third-, fourth- and fifth-degree assault. He was sentenced to 30 months in the St. Cloud Correctional Facility after being convicted of two assaults in 2007. He was convicted in 2004 of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and for possession of methamphetamine. In 2006, he was convicted of seven counts of burglary and criminal damage to property.

via Duluth man charged in April shooting in Lincoln Park | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Northland state trooper pleads guilty to careless driving, avoids DWI

Published June 14, 2013, 06:20 AM

Northland state trooper pleads guilty to careless driving, avoids DWI

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper who was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol on his way to a training session in Duluth pleaded guilty Thursday to careless driving and escaped a DWI conviction, but his law enforcement career remains uncertain.

By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune

    • Nicholas Morse
image
Minnesota state trooper Nick Morse, 29, of Two Harbors, was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. (St. Louis County Jail photo)

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper who was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol on his way to a training session in Duluth pleaded guilty Thursday to careless driving and escaped a DWI conviction, but his law enforcement career remains uncertain.

Trooper Nick Morse, 30, of Two Harbors was charged in September with careless driving and operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or more.

He pleaded guilty to the careless driving charge and the DWI charge was dismissed by the Duluth city attorney’s office. Both crimes are misdemeanors.

Senior Judge Richard Jessen sentenced Morse to 90 days in the St. Louis County Jail, but stayed the sentence for 14 months of probation.

As conditions of his probation, Morse must undergo a chemical dependency assessment and follow the recommendations of the evaluation, take part in a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim-impact panel and have no same or similar conduct.

Morse was represented at the plea hearing in State District Court by attorney Frederic Bruno.

“It was a reasonable compromise,” Bruno said of the plea agreement. “There were issues on both sides of the case. I think this was the appropriate thing to do to have this concluded as he moves onto the next step of his career. … There is a good likelihood he will return to law enforcement in one form or another.”

Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said Morse was treated by “standard protocol” as anyone else in a similar situation would be treated.

“He had a low test level and no prior history of this,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure that just because he’s a law enforcement officer he’s treated no more or no less harshly than any other person.”

Morse’s home phone number was not in service Thursday and he couldn’t be reached for comment.

Bruno said his client’s job status with the State Patrol is currently under litigation.

A phone message left for a Duluth District State Patrol supervisor asking for Morse’s current job status with the patrol wasn’t returned Thursday. Morse was placed on leave after charges were filed pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations.

The State Patrol said that Morris was arrested when a supervisor noticed the odor of alcohol coming from the trooper when he reported to a training session at 8:10 a.m. on Sept. 26.

According to court-filed reports of the incident:

When Morse reported to the training session he told a supervisor that he had locked his keys in his squad car. A supervisor noticed that Morse’s eyes were bloodshot and very watery and that he emitted an odor of alcohol when he entered the training room.

A supervisor retrieved a spare set of keys and went to Morse’s squad car and found it parked “in a very odd way.” The inside of the car had the odor of an alcoholic beverage and the ignition was in the “on” position, but the vehicle wasn’t running.

Morse was then given a series of field-sobriety tests. After completion of the tests, the trooper was informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

He was arrested by a State Patrol lieutenant and transported to the St. Louis County Jail. He was allowed to make an eight-minute phone call to an attorney and then submitted to a breath test, which revealed an alcohol concentration of .08.

In a separate incident on Dec. 7, 2011, Morse was stopped by a Duluth police officer at 2:45 p.m. The officer reported that radar indicated a black Honda Pilot driven by Morse was traveling at 83 mph in a 65 mph zone on Minnesota Highway 61 between Lakewood Road and the French River. The officer wrote in his report that Morse stated he was on his way to work.

In that incident, Morse was convicted of a petty misdemeanor for speeding 79 mph in a 65 mph zone. He paid $135 in fines and surcharges.

Duluth police name latest Wanted of the Week | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published June 06, 2013, 03:47 PM

Duluth police name latest Wanted of the Week

Jesse D. Hanninen, 26, has felony arrest warrants in connection with fraud, burglary and drug convictions. Call 911 if you know where to find him.

By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune

The Duluth Police Department’s latest Property Crimes Wanted Person of the Week is a Duluth man with convictions for burglary, drug possession and financial transaction card fraud.

Jesse D. Hanninen, 26, has felony arrest warrants in connection with those crimes. He’s described as white, 6 feet tall and 160 pounds with hazel eyes and blond hair.

Call 911 if you know where to find him.

via Duluth police name latest Wanted of the Week | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth man charged with assault in Fourth Street shooting | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Published June 03, 2013, 02:42 PM

Duluth man charged with assault in Fourth Street shooting

A Duluth man has been arrested and charged for his role in a shooting Tuesday that wounded a man in the head.

A Duluth man has been arrested and charged for his role in a shooting Tuesday that wounded a man in the head.

Dameon Juvan Henley, 26, was arrested Thursday and charged today with a single count of felony second-degree assault. He is being held on $15,000 bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 26.

According to police, Henley walked up to the victim, Deandre Deontrius Norwood, 22, on Seventh Avenue East just below Fourth Street about 8:30 p.m. Henley got into an argument with Norwood, pulled out a handgun and pushed it into the Norwood’s abdomen. Henley then pulled the trigger several times, but the gun did not go off. Another suspect then came up to Norwood and shot him in the head.

Norwood was taken in a private vehicle to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center. He was in stable condition following the shooting, according to police. He is no longer listed as a patient at the hospital.

Henley and Norwood know each other, according to police.

Police said they are making progress on the case and are following several leads. Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to call the Duluth Police Department Violent Crimes Unit at (218) 730-5050.

via Duluth man charged with assault in Fourth Street shooting | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.