April 16 news

WORTHINGTON – A tentative trial date for September 9 was set in Nobles County District Court for the re-trial of Josue Fraga, whose 2009 conviction for the murder of his two-year-old niece Samantha was vacated in August after new evidence was brought forth.

A request by Fraga’s defense attorney for a change of venue was denied by Judge David Christensen. The request, made by public defender Cecil Naatz, was based on a possible appearance of prejudice because the county attorney at the time of the original trial is now a judge chambered in Nobles County. Assistant Attorney General Bill Klumpp argued that was not a proper basis for a change of venue, since all jurors would be questioned individually to weed out any who may have an acquaintance with Judge Gordon Moore, even though he will not be presiding over the case.

A motion to see the notes from counseling sessions with Fraga’s children was approved, as was a motion to disallow admission of evidence regarding Fraga’s alleged preparation for flight after the murder of his niece. Judge Christensen said a motion to disallow admission of testimony from Fraga’s brother, who claims Fraga sexually abused him as a teenager, will be taken under advisement. Klumpp said the evidence is relevant, as it shows a pattern of behavior related to sexual abuse of family members. Fraga allegedly raped his young niece, and at least two of his four children have made allegations of sexual abuse.

According to autopsy results, Samantha died of a ruptured stomach, multiple contusions and a fractured skull in March 2008. Fraga is charged with first- and second-degree murder. The trial is set to last two to three weeks.

RUSHMORE — A rural Rushmore home was destroyed by fire Monday afternoon. Firefighters from the Wilmont and Rushmore fire departments were dispatched at 12:32 p.m.to the Rick Flatgard home at 21320 Jones Ave., north of Rushmore. When they arrived, the home was fully engulfed, with flames coming out of the roof and windows. Winds caused the fire to spread quickly, making it impossible to save the structure.

Fire Chief Jim Balster said that while a generator was providing power to the home, it was sitting outside and wasn’t damaged in the blaze. He speculated the fire could have been caused by a space heater or an electrical issue, but he and other firefighters were unsure.

Power had not yet been restored to the home since an ice storm blanketed the area last Tuesday. Approximately 15 firefighters battled the blaze, with water trucked in from both Wilmont and Rushmore. The family dog was lost in the fire, but no residents or firefighters were injured.

WORTHINGTON - The City Wide Trash Pick Up that was scheduled to begin on Monday, April 22nd in Worthington has been cancelled due to the inclement weather and tree damage. New dates for the trash clean up will be announced at a later time. Please do not put any trash at the curb at this time.

SLAYTON – From Slayton City Administrator Josh Malchow, the city will pick up trees on the boulevard this week in Slayton, then make a final sweep Monday, April 29, beginning at 7 a.m. Anyone with questions can contact Slayton City Hall at 507-836-8534.

SIBLEY, Iowa - The Sibley/Ocheyedan High School student body on Friday will be helping the communities of Sibley and Ocheyedan in cleaning up from the devastating ice storm that hit the communities last week. IF any parents or loyal patrons would be willing to help supervise and donate their time and/or bring equipment to assist in loading branches and to transport debris to the local dumps, please contact the Sibley/Ocheyedan High School at (712-754-3601). School officials will gladly get you on a work list.

WORTHINGTON - The Southwest Initiative Foundation has established the Nobles County Area Disaster Relief Fund as a non-endowed fund to receive tax deductible contributions that will support grants to individuals and businesses in need, fund clean-up and recovery efforts, and fund organizations critical to the community in times of crisis. You can find more information in a on the homepage of the SWIF website – at www.swifoundation.org

SIBLEY, Iowa - There will be a public appeal hearing on a petition that was filed to reject the public safety budget in Osceola County. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at the Sibley Senior Center.

BOSTON - Law enforcement officers investigating the Boston marathon bombings searched an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere, Mass. late Monday into early Tuesday.Two explosions near the finish line at the Boston Marathon Monday left at least three dead and more than 130 injured. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that a search warrant related to the probe was served Monday night in Revere, but provided no further details.

Some investigators were seen leaving the Revere apartment building early Tuesday carrying brown paper bags, plastic trash bags and a duffel bag.

Several media sources Monday night were reporting three had been killed. The media reported that among those killed was an 8-year-old child. Among the injured were people who lost limbs, including two brothers and several children.

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