Supreme Court reverses murder conviction in baby stabbing

The Supreme Court has in effect ordered a new trial for a teenage mother convicted of stabbing her newborn to death. Kevin Giles of the Strib reports: “The conviction of a young Oakdale mother accused of stabbing her baby to death was reversed this morning in an opinion issued by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Nicole Marie Beecroft was sentenced at age 19 to life in prison without parole in 2008 for stabbing her newborn daughter 135 times and throwing her into a trash can outside her house. She was convicted of first-degree murder in Washington County District Court. But Justice Paul H. Anderson wrote that because of ‘improper conduct of certain state officials, a reversal is warranted in the interests of justice.’ The reversal means Beecroft is eligible for a new trial.”

That infamous I-35 crash in Lakeville two years ago? With the trucks, the swarms of bees and the suffocating heat? The offending driver is facing prison time. Heron Marquez Estrada of the Strib reports: “A judge found a Twin Cities truck driver guilty of criminal vehicular homicide for causing a crash that killed two women, one of whom was pregnant, on Interstate 35 in Lakeville in 2010. Jason Styrbicky of Buffalo, Minn., was found guilty of three counts of criminal vehicular homicide, along with a count of careless driving. He was driving a semitrailer truck when he came upon traffic that had halted because of construction and plowed into two cars, which then slammed into another semi that was hauling millions of bees. The driver admitted that he’d taken his eyes off the road to look for an energy drink that he’d dropped, but Judge Karen Asphaug said his story changed, from initially saying he looked away for 30 seconds or more to saying during the trial that it was more like six to 10 seconds. The judge said the evidence suggested that he looked away for at least 16 seconds and perhaps up to a minute.”

Someone has an ad budget … John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune writes: “A little-known environmental group has paid for a billboard along Interstate 35 in Duluth hoping to raise the profile of proposed copper mining plans in northern Minnesota. The group Save Our Sky Blue Waters paid for the billboard and promises more to come, as well as radio, television and print advertising. The group’s website is The billboard shows some stark examples of past pollution at copper mines in other regions and tells passing motorists that the same problem of ‘acid mine drainage’’ could be coming to a lake, stream or river in Minnesota. The Duluth billboard, along Interstate 35 in West Duluth, was announced this week at the same time other Minnesota environmental groups began a campaign to draw awareness to the coming boom of copper mining in the state. At least a half-dozen mines are being considered and two — the PolyMet open pit mine near Hoyt Lakes and the Twin Metals underground mine southeast of Ely — are advancing toward the permitting process.” I gotta say, “acid mine drainage” doesn’t sound healthy.

Earlier, David Lien of a Minnesota outdoors recreation group wrote in the News Tribune: “[I]t might be worthwhile to review some of the basic facts to clarify what’s at stake. Copper mining, sometimes called hard-rock mining or sulfide mining, has left toxic scars across the country with acids and sulfides leaching into streams, contaminating rivers and lakes, killing fish and leaving dead zones. Mining sulfide-metal ore never has been accomplished without causing eventual acid-metal leachate pollution of ground and surface waters.

In northern Minnesota, the underlying geologic complex consists of low-grade, highly disseminated metals which are very costly to extract; more than 99 percent of the mined material is expected to be waste. Mining less than 1 percent sulfide ores requires blasting, crushing and grinding of rock, leaving behind tons of waste rock and tailings that can leach acid-mine drainage and toxic heavy metals into the watershed. In 2004, the federal government estimated it would cost taxpayers $7.8 billion to clean up 63 mining operations designated as Superfund sites by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; cleaning up all abandoned hard-rock mines would cost between $20 billion and $54 billion.”

The GleanApparently enough rain has fallen (before Wednesday night and Thursday) for the Forest Service to give the “all clear” for the BWCAW. The AP story says: “The U.S. Forest Service lifted campfire restrictions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness effective Wednesday. The Forest Service says continued precipitation over most of the Superior National Forest means the restrictions are no longer needed. Campfires will be allowed any time of the day in all areas of the Boundary Waters.”

Heart, be still. “The Beeb” is coming back. At the Strib,Chris Riemenschneider, who I suspect is not The Beeb’s target demo, says: “Do you still have Bieber Fever? If so, Target Center will have the cure when the little guy with the big new hit, ‘Boyfriend,’ returns to Minneapolis on Oct. 20 as part of a North American tour announced Wednesday morning. Tickets to Justin Bieber’s ‘Believe’ tour will go on sale to the general public June 2. Prices have yet to be announced. A fan-club pre-sale round starts May 23 at, and there is also an American Express pre-sale through Ticketmaster beginning May 24. Bieber’s opener for the tour, which begins Sept. 29, will be ‘Canadian Idol’ finalist Carly Rae Jespen, who is suddenly blowing up in America with the pop hit ‘Call Me Maybe.’ There should be less of a feverous demand for tickets than at Bieber’s Target Center concert in 2010, when 15,800 fans packed the arena and ticket scalpers took them to the cleaners.” It’s not true that Bieber will duet with Tom Waits.

Andy Rathbun of the PiPress made the run to Hudson for an appearance by Democrat Tom Barrett, Gov. Scott Walker’s recall challenger: “Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett delivered a barrage of attacks on Republican Gov. Scott Walker during a campaign visit to Hudson Wednesday … The mayor used the stop to hit the governor on a number of issues, from job numbers to public union reforms, making the current political division in the state a center point. ‘Are we going to have a leader … who is going to pit people against each other, or are we going have a leader who is going to try to bring people together?’ Barrett, a Democrat, said to cheers at Keys Cafe & Bakery. ‘Governor Walker started this civil war and I will end it,’ he told the mix of supporters and breakfast customers that filled the restaurant at 8 a.m. Barrett’s Hudson stop was his first visit this election cycle to St. Croix County, which tipped heavily in favor of Walker in 2010.”

Speaking of Walker, Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (which has now endorsed Walker twice in 17 months). Charles Pierce (author of ”Idiot America”) writes in Esquire: “Newspaper endorsements don’t count as much as they used to because, well, newspapers don’t count as much as they used to. However, the behavior of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel — and, yes, I once worked there, too, typing up the nightly bowling scores, which is a position of considerable influence in Cream City — in regard to the career of Scott Walker, the google-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, the newspaper has been positively schizoid, or beside itself, which is pretty much the same thing, now that I think about it. … the truly noxious argument within the editorial is its attempt to delegitimize the recall generally, and this one in particular, as somehow being an illegitimate political device, largely because it stirs up politics. It blames Walker’s dismal job rating in part on the “yearlong tantrum,” which is a neat little way to infantilize a movement that gathered over a million signatures to make the recall possible. Clearly, more than public employees thought Walker was doing badly enough to be recalled. Finally, the newspaper concludes, it’s about damn time that the citizens of Wisconsin stopped acting like Scott Walker worked for them or something, and took their silly political beefs out of the state’s politics, lest something akin to actual self-government actually break out.”

It’s a Precip-apocalypse! MPR’s Paul Huttner is now warning about “flash flooding”: “If today’s weather were a song, the classic T-Bone Walker blues jam ‘Stormy Monday’ would do … even on a Wednesday.
A stalled cool front and low pressure riding along the front the next 24 hours will keep heavy rain, thunder, and a slight risk of severe weather in the forecast. A flash flood watch covers most of central Minnesota and the metro until 1pm Thursday.


Dear, where did I put my snorkel?

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