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VIRUS OUTBREAK IN MINNESOTA

Minnesota virus positivity rate hits 15.6% in new record

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota’s COVID-19 positivity rate for the past seven days reached 15.6% on Friday, in an indication of the rapid spread of the omicron variant across the state. State health officials said the figure demonstrates the growing spread of the omicron variant and they expect a further surge in case growth for at least the next month. Minnesota’s previous record for positivity rate came early in the pandemic in April 2020, when testing capacity was much more limited. The Minnesota Hospital Association urges people to seek testing in settings other than hospital emergency rooms due to the large number of patients throughout the state.

GEORGE FLOYD-OTHER OFFICIALS

Both sides seek to delay state trial for cops in Floyd’s death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Prosecutors and defense attorneys for three former Minneapolis officers charged in George Floyd’s death are asking a judge to postpone the state trial pending a federal civil rights trial. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao are scheduled to go to trial on state charges of complicity and complicity in both murder and manslaughter on March 7. All three also face federal trial on January 20 on charges they allege violated Floyd’s civil rights. Prosecutors and defense attorneys filed a request Friday to postpone the state trial, saying it is not known how long the federal trial will last. They ask for an informal conference to set a new date for the trial.

DEATH BY ASSAULT

St. Paul man charged with assault murder

S T. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A St. Paul man was charged with murder after he allegedly struck a man so hard that he died a week later. The Pioneer Press reported that 39-year-old Phillip Charles Jones was charged Friday with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of 51-year-old Carlos Venceslado Rocha. Police went to Rocha’s apartment on December 20 and found her face to be bloody and swollen. Doctors released him, but when officers returned to his apartment on December 27 to see how he was doing, they found him dead. According to a criminal complaint, other people living in Rocha’s apartment said Jones hit Rocha after Rocha asked him to move his things, which were blocking a hallway.

BURNED BODY

Investigators try to identify human remains in burned vehicle

CALEDONIA, Minn. (AP) – Researchers in southeastern Minnesota are working to identify human remains discovered in a burned-out vehicle. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Houston County Sheriff’s Office received a report Wednesday morning of a burned-out vehicle in Beaver Creek Valley State Park outside Caledonia. Agents discovered human remains in the vehicle. The sheriff’s office is working with the state fire marshal and the Southeastern Minnesota Office of the Medical Examiner to identify the remains.

OBIT-REEVES

Minnesota Journalist And Activist Mel Reeves Dies From COVID-19

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minneapolis journalist and civil rights activist Mel Reeves died Thursday of complications from COVID-19. Reeves, 64, was involved in Twin Cities activism, where he advocated for social justice and spoke out against police brutality. He served as community editor for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the state’s oldest black-owned newspaper, which announced his death. The Star Tribune reported that Reeves was hospitalized last month with complications from the virus. Reeves urged people to get vaccinated in an interview with WCCO-TV the week before his death. She is survived by her son, Kellen, and five grandchildren.

DRIVING WITH THE SHERIFF-DRUNKEN

Additional calls for the Hennepin County Sheriff to resign

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – There are more calls for the resignation of the Hennepin County Sheriff, who was recently convicted of drunk driving. Five of the seven Hennepin County commissioners and a Minneapolis City Council member have joined others in calling for the resignation of Sheriff Dave Hutchinson. Authorities say Hutchinson’s blood alcohol content was nearly double the legal limit when his county-owned SUV crashed last month in Alexandria. Investigators say the sheriff repeatedly denied he was behind the wheel. County Board Chair Marion Greene tweeted Thursday that “Hutchinson’s subsequent actions and comments have eroded public confidence” in her ability to serve.

KIDNAPPING OF MENARDS

Man Found Guilty in South Dakota Menards Kidnapping Case

WATERTOWN, SD (AP) – The man accused of attempting to kidnap a child while working at Menards in Watertown has been convicted by a jury. Thirty-nine-year-old Peter Groenhoff from Canby, Minnesota, was convicted of second-degree kidnapping Thursday. The charges stem from an incident in May 2018. Prosecutors say Groenhoff was working at Menards when he picked up a 4-year-old boy and quickly walked away from the boy’s family. The boy’s father chased after Groenhoff and told him to stop, but Groenhoff continued until he was caught in the employee break room. The police finally arrived and arrested him. A date for the sentence has not been set.

SHOT BY GEORGE FLOYD-NIECE

Belated response to Floyd’s granddaughter shooting prompts for review

HOUSTON (AP) – Houston police and city officials are investigating an hour-long delay by authorities in responding to a New Year’s Day shooting in which George Floyd’s 4-year-old granddaughter was injured. while he slept in his Houston apartment. Arianna Delane’s family say the girl was sleeping in an upstairs room when someone fired multiple shots in her apartment around 3 a.m. Saturday. LaTonya Floyd, George Floyd’s older sister and the girl’s great-aunt, says that when police and paramedics did not arrive immediately after the family called 911, they took Arianna to the hospital. Arianna’s family say the police did not arrive until around 7 a.m. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner says his agency is investigating the delay in response.

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