- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014
High court vacates sentence in ‘10 market killings

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The mandatory sentence of life without parole for a man convicted of killing three people in a Minneapolis market when he was a teen was vacated Wednesday by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The case was sent back to Hennepin County for a hearing to see whether a sentence with parole would be more appropriate for Mahdi Hassan Ali, based on factors relating to his age at the time of the killings.

Prosecutors say Ali was 17 when he shot and killed three people on Jan. 6, 2010, at Seward Market and Halal Meat. He was charged as an adult and convicted in 2011 of multiple counts, including first-degree premeditated murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life without release.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles amount to cruel and unusual punishment, and are therefore unconstitutional. The court, however, didn’t rule out such sentences for teens altogether, only the mandatory aspect. A judge could still issue a no-parole sentence for a teenager, but must take into account “the mitigating qualities of youth,” such as a failure to understand the ramifications of their actions.

Ali was one of eight people in Minnesota serving mandatory terms of life without parole for murders they were convicted of committing when they were teens. The Minnesota Supreme Court previously ruled the federal decision regarding juvenile sentences is not retroactive, but since Ali’s case was on appeal when that decision came out, the justices found Wednesday that it applies in his case.

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Fired teacher charged with having sex with student

AUSTIN, Minn. (AP) - Charges filed against a former Austin Pacelli High School math teacher say she may be pregnant with the child of a 17-year-old student.

Twenty-eight-year-old Mary Gilles was charged Wednesday with six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The criminal complaint alleges that Gilles became sexually involved with the male student last February. It says the relationship halted over the summer and resumed last month. It says she admitted the sexual relationship to police and said she knew he was 17.

The complaint also says emails between them refer “to the defendant possibly being pregnant.”

Gilles was released on bail after her initial court appearance. She was fired from the Catholic school on Tuesday.

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Man who killed 3 daughters begins appeals process

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A lawyer for a Wisconsin man convicted of killing his three daughters has taken the first step in the appeals process.

Attorney Tom Provis filed a notice of appeal Friday. He told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday (https://bit.ly/1uDmSoUhttps://bit.ly/1uDmSoU ) he’s looking for legal errors in the case against Aaron Schaffhausen. He says he expects it will be at least three months before the first briefs are filed.

Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide but maintained that he was insane when he cut his daughters’ throats at their River Falls, Wisconsin, home in 2012.

After a 12-day trial last year, a jury determined he was sane, a decision that sent him to prison rather than a mental institution. He was sentenced to life without parole.

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NRA plans ad blitz targeting Nolan on gun rights

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The nation’s most powerful gun rights group plans to spend close to $1 million in a weeklong, pre-Election Day ad blitz targeting Minnesota U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan.

The National Rifle Association’s massive ad buy - $750,000 over just one week starting Oct. 28, according to public filings - adds to the flood of outside money that has made the race for the 8th Congressional District the most expensive contest in Minnesota by far. NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker confirmed the ads would focus on the 8th District but declined to say whether they would criticize Nolan, boost his Republican challenger Stewart Mills or both.

No matter the message, it could be potent in the 8th District, home to northeastern Minnesota counties with some of the highest gun permit ownership rates in Minnesota.

Guns have played heavily into the high pressure race, making appearances in nearly every ad, debate and interview the two candidates have done. Mills has tried to put Nolan on defense with gun owners, accusing the Democratic congressman of trying to strip gun owners of Second Amendment rights.

Nolan has defended his support of an assault weapons ban, limits on magazine capacity and other proposals as common-sense regulation that don’t conflict with the hunting-friendly lifestyle of the 8th District. Nolan’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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