Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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HUDSON, Wis. — A guilty plea was entered and two sexual assault charges were dismissed this week in the case of a former Hudson girls basketball coach. Under a plea agreement announced Tuesday, Oct. 31, Louis J. French pleaded guilty to using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. Three other charges — first-degree child sex assault, repeated sex assault of the same child and causing a child to view sexual activity — were dismissed as part of the agreement.
ELLSWORTH, Wis. — A rural Elmwood man might have used unconventional means to raise dogs, but it didn't amount to the dozens of crimes he's charged with, his attorney claims. Stuart Earl West had research that backed up the diet of deer and cattle carcasses he fed the yellow Labrador dogs he bred and sold, defense attorney Keith Belzer said during the first day of testimony Monday, Oct. 23, in West's trial.
RED WING, Minn. — Between dusk and the twilight hours of dawn, Minnesota State Patrol trooper Kendall LeMay works the graveyard shift covering a large swath of land stretching from the St. Paul to the St. Croix River dividing Wisconsin from Minnesota. His focus is mainly taking drunken and impaired drivers off the road. So far this year, he's arrested more than 60 drivers suspected of DWI, the second most of any trooper in the state. Last year, he logged more than 100.
HUDSON, Wis. — Words weren't enough for Alexis McKinley to describe what happened to a little boy who suffered a broken leg at the hands of a daycare worker. Though she tried. "This case is terrible," said McKinley, an assistant St. Croix County district attorney. "It's infuriating. It's sad. It's really hard to find the words to describe what happened to the victim." Instead, the prosecutor played a video of the Feb. 24, 2016, incident that led to a conviction against 27-year-old Ashley Garrity.
The Wisconsin girl who died in a fall from a North Shore cliff last weekend is being remembered this week as someone known for putting smiles on her classmates’ faces. Bailey Belisle, 14, had just started her freshman year at Somerset High School in Somerset, Wis., about 25 miles northeast of the Twin Cities. In addition to playing on the school volleyball team, school officials said Belisle demonstrated gifts for music and the arts.
A Prescott man returns to court this month in Pierce County on allegations he crashed into two pedestrians outside a bar just weeks after threatening to shoot police. The allegations stem from three separate incidents between June and July that left 29-year-old Jeffrey A. Carr charged with one count of threat to law enforcement officers, one count of operating a motor vehicle without owner's consent, one count of felony bail jumping and two counts of aggravated battery. He's also charged with misdemeanor bail jumping and disorderly conduct.
HUDSON, Wis. — A 64-year-old woman with a history of criminal convictions in St. Croix County faces new charges after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in collection offerings from a Hudson church. Authorities suspect Kathryn R. Burge likely pocketed money while passing through the St. Patrick's Catholic Church confessional on her way to a room where the funds were to be placed into cash bags, according to the charging document. St. Croix County prosecutors charged Burge July 11 with two counts of misdemeanor theft and one count of obstructing an officer.
RIVER FALLS, Wis. — A proposal that critics say could spell doom for taprooms in Wisconsin breweries remains afloat, according to a Wisconsin State Assembly member. Rep. Shannon Zimmerman refuted a Wednesday, July 12, media report that the proposal — which has not been made public — is effectively dead.
ELLSWORTH, Wis. — The driver in a 2016 motorcycle crash that left a Prescott mom dead was charged last week with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. St. Croix County prosecutors filed the charge against Joshua D. Sykora, a 35-year-old Hastings. Minn., resident. Authorities said the June 25, 2016, crash in the town of Troy killed Sykora's then-girlfriend, 38-year-old Brooke A. Ptacek-Baker, a Hastings business owner and mother of two.
ST. JOSEPH, Wis. — A St. Croix County woman died from an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning Sunday, June 25, after she and two others were found on a boat over the weekend on the St. Croix River. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office identified the woman as 24-year-old Ashley G. Speer of Glenwood City. Two others on the boat, 25-year-old Justin M. Roskos of Hastings and 27-year-old River Falls resident Hayden L. Johnson, were found alive. They were transported to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.