Fox 9 goes hard after Ramsey County medical examiner

In the second of a two-part investigative piece, Fox 9’s Jeff Baillon tells a compelling story about possible, serious errors in two homicide cases handled by Ramsey County Medical Examiner Michael McGee. The long-range, vignette-like camera work on McGee getting into his car is a bit much, but the challenges to his work by other credible professionals would seem like a compelling reason for him to agree to an interview, which he has not.

If the Twin Cities had the equivalent of Letterman-Leno-Conan late-night comics, they’d be on their knees thanking the Good Lord for the story of a 58-year-old soon-to-be-divorced gun rights/anti-abortion 6th District Republican politician walking back alleys packing a loaded gun while checking out the “girlfriend” he met on the Internet. On Tuesday, Rep. Tom Hackbarth went to retrieve his weapon from the cops and talked to reporters. Dave Orrick of the PiPress puts it in daily newspaperspeak, writing: “ ‘What did I do that was so bad?’ [Hackbarth] asked a reporter during an interview Tuesday. ‘According to me, all I did was go to an empty parking lot and parked my truck … walked around the block, and picked up the car and left.’ Hackbarth said he had no idea he was parking in a Planned Parenthood parking lot. A gun-rights advocate, he said he usually carries his revolver on him and emphasized that’s perfectly legal. The 58-year-old married father of three said he and his wife are separated and planning to divorce. He said the woman, whom he met through an online dating service, ‘wasn’t even a girlfriend’ and said his description to police that he was ‘jealous’ wasn’t accurate. ‘It’s not like I was really jealous, but you know how you meet this person and you really like her, and she’s saying all the right things, but you think she’s feeding you a line of bull—-? She’s giving you all this … and you want to figure out what’s going on. Well that’s what I did,” he said in a telephone interview in which he readily talked about the incident but questioned its newsworthiness. ‘Sure enough, she lied to me and I’m done with it.’ ” I love the “according to me” part.

The Strib story, by Chao Xiong includes this bit of scene-setting: “Hackbarth said he had coffee with the woman on Nov. 15, and asked her to dinner the next night but she told him she couldn’t because of a commitment she had with a female friend in Highland Park. Hackbarth said he felt that she might have been seeing a man instead, so he parked his car and walked around the block looking for her car. ‘I was not a jealous boyfriend,’ said Hackbarth, who is in the process of divorcing his wife of 25 years. ‘I was just trying to check up on her. It’s totally a misunderstanding.’ Hackbarth said that he always carries his fully loaded gun … .” Why? Because chicks dig it.

Jay Kolls, over at KSTP, gets the legislator on camera saying, “I don’t understand why this is even news.”

With the second recount in two years looking like an anticlimax in terms of duration and histrionics, the PiPress’ Jason Hoppin serves up a succinct explanation for why there will be so much less circus fun this time around: “Emmer’s campaign sought, and partially won, a concession that the canvassing board reviews challenges deemed frivolous by local recount officials. Those challenges will be set aside to await further action. However, the board, whose members are Ritchie, Supreme Court Justices Paul Anderson and Davis Stras, and district judges Denise Reilly of Hennepin County and Gregg Johnson of Ramsey County, decided that those challenges ‘deemed frivolous’ would not be withdrawn from the overall vote count as the recount proceeds. As local officials recount ballots, challenges are temporarily withdrawn from the totals in the recount. By keeping frivolous challenges in the count, the board is trying to head off the kind of escalation seen in 2008 when each campaign matched the other’s challenges so they did not appear to be losing ground in the recount.”

There must be some rule of thumb for whom not to believe when a collection of lawyers all go on record denying they’re in it for the money. But that is the implausible scenario in the AP story that broke last night, where Brett Favre’s agent denies he ever offered hush money and lawyers for Jenn Sterger (the New York Jets sideline honey) deny they ever asked for any. “[Favre agent Bud] Cook replied in a statement to the AP Tuesday that there was never an intention to offer money for silence.” ‘Her manager and her lawyer have made numerous overtures to me … at least 6 between the two of them,’ Cook wrote. ‘Anyone can figure out why. The point is we were never going to pay them, we didn’t pay them and we will never pay them. Because, there is NO reason to pay them! They should consider that their attempts to negotiate privately and through the media have failed.’ Cook declined to answer further questions about the matter. Joe Conway, Sterger’s attorney, said he called Cook once to introduce himself and followed up with a letter. ‘It’s not about money. It’s about doing the right thing,’ Conway said in a phone interview.” But of course. What other reason could there be?

The head of the “Nice Guys” prostitution ring will not do jail time. The Strib’s Dave Chanen writes, “[John] St. Marie, who uses a wheelchair because of childhood polio, can move his neck and his finger on his left hand. Post-polio syndrome forced him to retire in 2003 because he needs around-the-clock health care, said [his attorney Jim] Dahlquist. The deal was made before an upcoming settlement conference with the Ramsey County attorney’s office, which handled the case because of St. Marie’s employment with Hennepin County. A key consideration in making the deal was the great expense to taxpayers to incarcerate him, said Paul Gustafson, spokesman for the county attorney’s office.”

You’ve heard all the jokes about the sausage factory. Now we’ve got undercover video from the turkey plant. Paul Walsh of the Strib files a story about a Humane Society plant filming “acceptable” industry practices at the giant Willmar Poultry operation, and guess what — it ain’t pretty. “An investigator whom the society sent to work undercover for 11 days last month at Willmar Poultry Co., the nation’s largest turkey hatchery, captured video images of practices that included workers tossing sick, injured or surplus animals into grinding machines while still alive. Willmar said much of what the video shows is acceptable industry practice but acknowledged that some of its employees’ actions appear to ‘violate the company’s animal welfare policies.’ ” Their what policies? I thought the birds were raised to be, you know, slaughtered and eaten.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann granted an “exclusive interview” with juuust slightly right of far right Newsmax TV and repeated several of her most popular assertions. “Bachmann is a tax attorney by profession who formerly worked for the U.S. Treasury Department. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, she was asked about the Bush tax cuts, which Democrats want to extend for the middle class and Republicans want for all taxpayers. ‘The best thing to do is not increase anyone’s taxes,’ Bachmann says. ‘Unfortunately, President Obama’s wish list is to have a massive increase in taxes. We want to make sure no one has an increase in taxes, because for instance just in my district alone if we fail to extend these current tax rates we’re going to lose 2,000 jobs. I don’t think it serves anyone’s interest if we take $1.2 billion out of my district and put it in the hands of politicians in Washington. Let’s keep it back home where it will do some good.’ ” There’s probably a reason why no independent accountant has corroborated the congresswoman’s numbers.

The Business Journal’s John Vomhof Jr. reports that Southdale is close to getting Herberger’s to take over the long-vacant space last occupied by Mervyn’s. You have to subscribe to get the full story.  

The mystery over whether Denny Hecker tried to sneak through a jailhouse marriage to his girlfriend, Christi Rowan (who would be his fifth wife, the lucky gal) remains unsettled. The PiPress’ John Welbes reports: “[The Rev. Peter Geisendorfer-Lindgren said] he had handed his card to a federal agent when he arrived … so agents knew who he was. When asked if he was there to marry Hecker and Rowan, he declined comment. Geisendorfer-Lindgren said Hecker wants to get married, and that ‘there was no intent to go around somebody’s back, certainly not on my part. And there won’t be in the future.’ ” Note to the good Reverend, a simple, emphatic “no” is probably the best response if you weren’t there to perform a marriage.

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Comments (36)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 11/24/2010 - 09:51 am.

    Just a guess but I would think two of the top things that would be red flags to a woman who is internet dating would be potential date stalks her when she says she is busy and potential date likes to pack a pistol to dates. It is newsworthy to me because it is about an elected official who is a total LOSER!

  2. Submitted by Molly MacGregor on 11/24/2010 - 09:59 am.

    Re Hackbarth at the Planned Parenthood parking lot – what about his statement that he didn’t know it was planned parenthood’s parking lot? Check out the parking lot at 1965 Ford Parkway on google steets – it is a small lot between two buildings – there appears to be a sign on the building (presumably visible as you enter from the street) that says planned parenthood. And, he is bringing a load gun to check up on his girlfriend? this is a frightening story – don’t play it for cute!

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/24/2010 - 11:32 am.

    About the gun toting, in the process of divorcing, “date” guy…

    What troubles me most, is that this gentleman seems to think that, once he has had one date with a woman, she is under obligation to be involved with him exclusively (i.e. he owns her until he’s done with her), and she’s under obligation to reveal to him everything about her personal life and to justify to him every minute that she’s not in his presence.

    To him, his own obsessive behavior seems completely normal. He is completely unable to realize that this woman (and presumably his soon-to-be former wife) is an independent person in her own right and not merely an extension to be attached to himself (or removed) whenever it suits him. He can’t fathom why his sense of entitlement in regards to women and his sense of complete ownership of the women he’s involved with is a problem.

    Just a hint to my female friends: if you run into this attitude at any time in a relationship, especially if the guy carries a gun with him everywhere he goes, RUN the other way.

  4. Submitted by Randy Allar on 11/24/2010 - 01:32 pm.

    Let me get this straight. We have an anti-abortion, pro-gun rights Republican legislator who was packing heat while allegedly looking for the woman he met online. And he says he didn’t know he had parked in the Planned Parenthood lot? Yeah, right. Run the other way, woman!

  5. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/24/2010 - 01:37 pm.

    Greg (#3): Either that is quite a fanciful extrapolation on your part, or you and I read different stories, In this case, actually a non-story.

    There are two ways to carry a gun, legally and illegally. Since he was able to retrieve it from the police, his must have been carrying it legally. It is unclear why the police took it from him.

    It is also unclear what the value would be to a Letterman-Leno-Conan equivalent. If this is ripe comic material, let’s hear it.

  6. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 11/24/2010 - 01:40 pm.

    Regarding Mr. Hackbarth …

    This is just another installment to the weird, the incomprehensible, and the scary stories about politicians and other empowered individuals. In this case, we should be thankful that it did not have a tragic conclusion because Mr. Hackbarth sounds as if he may have mental problems as well.

    I’m just shaking my heading and letting this go the same way I do when I see the police park their squad cars in a handicapped zone at a Holiday store, and run it to get doughnuts or other sweets.

  7. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 11/24/2010 - 02:09 pm.

    correction:—> shaking my head …

  8. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/24/2010 - 06:54 pm.

    Lambo has long had a “thing” about guns, marriages, and Republicans.

    This one happened to hit his personal trifecta.

    What’s the story again?

    Oh, that’s right, it’s actually about Lambo. What exactly does “because chicks dig it” REALLY mean, in the context of the facts extant?

    And Greg, I am very concerned about your “reaction” to this um, non-story.

    Paging Freud.

  9. Submitted by Erik Petersen on 11/24/2010 - 09:20 pm.

    BL – the phrase ‘fully loaded’ is meaningless for firearms. It’s exclusively binary. They’re either loaded or they’re not.

    A cargo plane can be fully loaded. A revolver is loaded or empty.

    Just tryin’ to help. ~108

  10. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/24/2010 - 09:25 pm.

    As usual, those who share the same dysfunctions with Mr. Hackbarth are as blind to those dysfunctions as he is. The sad thing is, they tend to try to rebuild the world in ways that fit those dysfunctions. They tend to minimize “non story?” their own misbehavior, and to denigrate and criticize normal people – all those who are not as dysfunctional as they are (and to blame others when things get out of hand i.e. “I wouldn’t have done that to her if she hadn’t made me so mad.)”

    Oh, and sorry to disappoint you, but although dear old Sigmund offered one great breakthrough to psychology – the idea that there is such a thing as a “subconscious mind,” he had a clearly-visible collection of dysfunctions, himself, dysfunctions which made his interpretations of what he found in people’s subconscious minds far less than adequate – more a projection of his own dysfunctions and his own biases onto other people than an accurate assessment of what was actually there.

  11. Submitted by Brian Newhouse on 11/24/2010 - 09:57 pm.

    Mr. Rose,

    Was it legal to carry a weapon in that parking lot? Usually there are posted limits/restrictions regarding the allowance of carrying a weapon on such a property.
    The guy sounds as though he may have been set up – almost desperate. Who is so naive, and uneducated about their candidates to vote for this ilk?
    Oh yeah, they are in the same district that voted overwhelmingly for Bachmann

  12. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/24/2010 - 10:04 pm.



    And I stand by my appraisal.

  13. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/24/2010 - 10:07 pm.

    “…more a projection of his own dysfunctions and his own biases onto other people than an accurate assessment of what was actually there.”

    Like I said, exactly.

  14. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 11/24/2010 - 10:11 pm.

    Eric- what does one call a revolver with 3 of 6 chambers loaded? I’d say partially loaded. 6 of 6, fully loaded. Am I missing something? And why does it matter?

  15. Submitted by Tim Larson on 11/24/2010 - 10:48 pm.

    #3 and #10

    Mr. Kapphahn, congratulations on you’re world record in the leap of logic. You’re posts are target rich so to save time I’ll just pick one.

    “To him, his own obsessive behavior seems completely normal.”

    Do you know or have any evidence that he’s done this before?

    Or does “obsessive” mean one occurrence, (for republicans anyway?)

    They only way this story would have ever been “newsworthy” is if it had been a democrat from Minneapolis packing heat.

  16. Submitted by Tim Larson on 11/24/2010 - 10:50 pm.

    And BD takes the silver.

  17. Submitted by John Olson on 11/25/2010 - 06:39 am.

    I love the “there ain’t no story here” crowd when the Speaker-Elect decides to sideline Rep. Hackbarth from being a chair (at least temporarily). Give Speaker-Elect Zellers props for having the guts to do what he did.

    Oh, and if this were a Democrat who did this instead of a Republican? The outcry from the usual suspects would be 180 degrees the other way and there would be calls for investigations, resignations, blah, blah, blah.

  18. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/25/2010 - 08:27 am.

    Call it lurking or call it stalking. It’s really just a case of an armed and concerned Rep. Hackbarth ‘investigating’ a potential future bride. Although it does concern me that that the threshold for a carry permit is not that high (background check). I imagine there are other freedom and liberty loving individuals out there that just need that little push to cross the line into questionable behavior as well. It would appear that the combination of firearms and passions are a bad mix….

    It would also be interesting to get this story from the perspective of his alleged “online date” and why she didn’t think it was such a good idea to allow Rep. Hackbarth a second date.

  19. Submitted by donald maxwell on 11/25/2010 - 10:15 am.

    I cannot see why anyone posting here would fail to see that this is a murder waiting to happen. Apparently some of these writers pay no attention to the statistics on wives and girlfriends killed by their guys, especially with a track record of stalking, which this obviously was.

    Unless Hackbarth was lying about why he was in the lot. It’s hard to believe that an ardent abortion opponent would not know where he was parked. In that case, it would be no stretch to read his actions as a terroristic threat against PP. I have friends who volunteer to protect visitors from the constant harassment at that clinic, and their lives are at risk from Hackbarth. This is not a rational man, and his actions should, if they are not, be grounds for removal of his carry permit.

    I wonder whether legislators are allowed to carry loaded guns into the Capitol and into committee rooms and onto the floor of the legislature.

  20. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 11/25/2010 - 10:17 am.

    Somebody mentioned David Letterman … what he would make of this story.

    I imagine he would bring up something about North Korea’s Kim Sung Il … and his brother, Mentally Ill.

    And, of-course, Mr. Letterman would nicely put the emphasis on (i.e. enunciate) the “Ill” part.

  21. Submitted by Erik Petersen on 11/25/2010 - 11:23 am.

    A revolver with cartridges in 3 chambers is loaded.

    A revolver with 1 cartridge in a chamber is loaded.

    A revolver with no cartridges in chambers is empty insofar as it matters. You don’t treat an unloaded gun more casually than a loaded gun.

    There is no ‘fully loaded’. If it can be fired its loaded. The distinction is practical.

  22. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/25/2010 - 12:02 pm.


    To set the record accurately, a background check, classroom training by certified instructors, as well as actual range qualification is required for a carry permit.

    If you want to review questionable behavior, just turn to the inside of the Metro section of the Strib, any day.

    Give thanks for the 2nd Amendment today.

  23. Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 11/25/2010 - 03:31 pm.

    It’s a non-story wrt gun-toting. Hackbarth has a legal conceal-and-carry permit.

    However …

    Of more concern to me (and to others, I hope) is his belief that he has the right to stalk a woman he has met only once. It doesn’t ultimately matter whether or not he is carrying a gun; bare hands can be weapons, too. Hackbarth is so deluded as to believe that a woman he has met once — and only once — is someone he feels he has the right to keep track of.

    It’s probably an indication already of how she felt about him, after meeting him, that she did not provide him with her personal email address after their first — and, hopefully, only — date.

    Hackbarth appears to have little regard for individual freedom. Why does this political hypocrisy not surprise me? Probably because hypocrisy is the byword of most far-right political practices. They want to “free” but can rarely accept the freedom of others to do as they wish.

  24. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/26/2010 - 09:49 am.

    #23: “Hackbarth appears to have little regard for individual freedom.”

    Uh, come again? Because he is a legal permit holder?

    Another example of the “whole cloth” approach by liberals. Just make it up out of thin air, with no basis is any sort of verifiable evidence, or even anything germane to the “story”.

  25. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/26/2010 - 12:44 pm.

    I read the same comment and my take was that it referred to the individual freedom/liberty of the woman to whom Rep. Hackbarth was stalking. It’s fair to say that it would be rather hard to have any personal freedom, with a persistent politician conducting surveillance of your personal activities. And then of course when he carries a handgun, he possesses a weapon of deadly force.

  26. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 11/26/2010 - 02:24 pm.

    @#22 -“To set the record accurately, a background check, classroom training by certified instructors, as well as actual range qualification is required for a carry permit.”

    This is all very true and as it should be. However, our concern here is: Are people with permits actually always fully aware that a gun permit implies a responsibility toward not only one’s own safety but that of others?

    Most of us here, I’m sure, are upset by this story not because of Mr. Hackbarth’s political persuasion, but his recklessness and lack of mental acuity.

    In your zeal to defend Mr. Hackbarth’s individual freedom/liberty, you forgot all about the “stalked” lady’s right to life and freedom to associate with whomever she chooses. No doubt, she very probably was not giving thanks for the 2nd Amendment yesterday! All power to her!

  27. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/26/2010 - 02:38 pm.

    In this case, carried quite legally.

    So that is somewhat of a “moot” point.

    “Conducting surveillance”?

    My goodness. This one certainly has brought out the rather hysteric over-characterizations.

  28. Submitted by Tim Larson on 11/26/2010 - 05:14 pm.

    Hackbarth appears to have little regard for individual freedom. Why does this political hypocrisy not surprise me? Probably because hypocrisy is the byword of most far-right political practices. They want to “free” but can rarely accept the freedom of others to do as they wish.

    Do you have any evidence that that Rep. Hackbarth’s actions caused his “victim” to not be able to do something she wished?

    There’s plenty of hypocrisy, but this ain’t it.

  29. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/26/2010 - 05:43 pm.

    //Officers at the scene suspected him of “stalking-like behavior” and borderline “harassment or terroristic threats,” so they hung on to his weapon, reports state.//

    //”It’s not like I was really jealous, but you know how you meet this person and you really like her, and she’s saying all the right things, but you think she’s feeding you a line of bull—-? She’s giving you all this … and you want to figure out what’s going on. Well that’s what I did,” he [Rep. Hackbarth] said in a telephone interview//

    Why would the Rep. Hackbarth feel the need to carry while he was checking up on his new found “girlfriend”? Firearms and passions are a bad combination, politician or not.

    I guess it’s a matter of perspective B.D. I like potato and you like potahto, I like tomato and you like tomahto…..

    I’m sure folks at the capitol will have a new found perspective about this particular Representative.

    But hey, let’s give the Representative a mulligan on this one.

  30. Submitted by Tim Larson on 11/26/2010 - 06:04 pm.

    And BD takes the silver.

    BD, I apologize, misread your posts, you’re not in the running.

  31. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 11/26/2010 - 07:55 pm.

    @#27 – “In this case, carried quite legally.”


    If that were true, the police would not have disarmed Mr. Hackbrath at the time. Good thing too … for him and all concerned. That permit that you hold up as a tablet from God is INVALID at certain locations! Why is this so hard to comprehend?

    Maybe, this will help. In the old days, in the West, everybody used to pack a weapon on their persons. They even did it openly. However, even back then, the law could say “No guns allowed inside town limits!” Marshall Wyatt Earp was able to keep the peace in Dodge City with that ordinance.

    There is no hysteria here … only cold and cutting reason which is driving some individuals to teeth-gnashing. Let us not trivialize this matter with cliched characterizations. Instead, let us use logic to make sense of the evidence facing us. And no moralizing while we are at it.

  32. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/27/2010 - 09:34 am.

    J.J. SETON (#31):

    “If that were true, the police would not have disarmed Mr. Hackbrath at the time.” Hardly; if it were true the police would have charged him and they would not have returned the gun.

    “They even did it openly” I will let you in on a secret. Open carry is the law in Minnesota too. It is often erroneously referred to as “conceal and carry”. There is no requirement for concealment.

  33. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/27/2010 - 10:45 am.

    JJ- Thanks for the Saturday matinee history lesson.

    As usual, after the lib hysteria (“a gun”!, “stalking”!, “at a holy site”!),the libs want to claim “cold and cutting reason”.

    And of course, logic and “no moralizing”.


    So very, very rich.

  34. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 11/27/2010 - 04:52 pm.

    You’re very welcome, BD. Anytime, really.

    Enjoy a “rich” weekend, despite Black Friday!

  35. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 11/27/2010 - 08:37 pm.

    Too rich to come back for seconds….

  36. Submitted by B Maginnis on 11/27/2010 - 10:17 pm.

    The thing is, Lambreaux calls out “soon to be divorced” (bold face his), but he also wants to propogate FOR gay marriage, or, in other words, to elevate “marriage” – but only, therefore, for the gays.

    It’s a riddle, I tells ya!

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