Minnesota news in brief at 7:58 p.m. CST

Friday, January 24, 2014

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Man charged in death of security hospital patient

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A mentally ill patient at the Minnesota Security Hospital was charged with murder Friday, accused of stomping on another patient’s head as many as 30 times because he was angry at staff and felt he needed to assault someone to get their attention, a criminal complaint said.

Darnell Dee Whitefeather, 31, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of third-degree murder in Wednesday’s death of Michael Francis Douglas.

Douglas, who had been convicted of murder in the 1990s, was found lying in his room Wednesday night with severe head trauma. He died of his injuries.

Scott Cutcher, Nicollet County’s public defender, said his office had not received any paperwork by Friday afternoon and he had no comment.

According to the criminal complaint, Whitefeather told police he was angry with staff because he wanted to see a doctor.

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Minnesota reboots Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Thirty mushers and 300 dogs will hit the trail Sunday in a rebooted John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon with new, fan-friendly features that organizers hope will help the Minnesota tradition recapture some of its former glory.

The 30th running of the Beargrease, which once rivaled Alaska’s famed Iditarod for prestige and prize money, boasts technology upgrades and more prize money. The starting line also was moved from an inland site north of the city to a more convenient site in Duluth, where organizers hope thousands of fans will gather for Sunday’s start.

People who don’t want to brave temperatures that are expected to be around zero degrees can watch the start live via streaming video. Also this year the sleds will carry GPS devices so fans can track the teams on the 374-mile course up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Gunflint Lake and back for a finish Wednesday.

Ten teams of 14 dogs will start the full marathon, while 20 teams with eight dogs each opted for the 125-mile mid-distance race, which finishes Monday in Tofte.

The Beargrease is being staged this year by a new management team, taking over for a volunteer crew that had run out of money, ideas and energy. In fact, the volunteers announced last October they were scrapping the 2014 race, spurring the new team to step in and quickly cancel the cancellation. The boosters also lured back a major sponsor, Black Bear Casino Resort, which put up a $35,000 purse.

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Forecast cold already leading to school closures

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