September 19 news

WORTHINGTON – Josue Fraga’s two oldest children are expected to testify today during the retrial for his alleged murder of 2-year-old Samantha in 2008 in Worthington. Testimony Wednesday included that of Fraga’s ex-wife and two youngest sons – a busy day that also included testimony from 10 people.

This is the second time Fraga has gone on trial for Samantha’s murder. His first conviction was vacated when new evidence involving his son Josue David came to light. Since then, new evidence was also introduced when his daughter alleged he had been raping her since she was a small child and saw him attack her cousin.

Marisela Fraga, who was married to Fraga at the time of Samantha’s death, was hesitant to speak at times and gave short answers through an interpreter during the court session. She offered very little insight as to what happened the night Samantha died, stating Fraga only told her he had seen Samantha’s 3-year-old brother jump on her.

Marisela did say Fraga would hit her at times, about once a month. She admitted she was afraid of him, but never saw him hurt any of the children. Fraga told her not to talk to people, and as a result, she did not have any friends, she said. Marisela seemed confused when defense attorney Cecil Naatz asked her about her knowledge of the sexual contact allegations against her oldest son Josue David. Under cross-examination, she said her definition of sexual contact meant having sex.

During her testimony, Fraga wiped away tears when photos of his children were shown, but got more emotional when his youngest son appeared on the stand. Watching his children, Fraga in turn looked sad, frustrated and distraught, at times removing his glasses and wiping his face.

Fraga’s middle son, who is 15, answered, “Marisela Fraga” when asked who his parents are. He had to be prompted to speak his father’s name.

During questioning, he said his father would punish him at times by making him kneel facing a wall or hitting him with a belt. Once, he said, his father put his hands around his neck and squeezed until he could not breathe, but the teen could not remember why. He said he never saw Fraga use the belt on Josue David, but did see him use it on his sister.

The 15-year-old said he never saw Josue David hurt anyone else, although he did yell sometimes.
Thursday’s testimony is scheduled to begin with Fraga’s daughter and oldest son Josue David, both of whom will allegedly offer information not given during the 2009 trial.

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — A visit to an inmate at the Lyon County Jail turned into a stay at the Lyon County Jail for one woman. The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Monday evening, 29-year-old Christina Marie Hartsough arrived at the Lyon County Jail to visit an inmate. After jail officials observed Hartsough for a short time, it was determined that she was under the influence of alcohol. A breath test was conducted and it indicated that she was drunk. Hartsough was arrested for Public Intoxication, and was held in the Lyon County Jail overnight.

GRANITE FALLS - On Wednesday, the Yellow Medicine County Attorney's Office filed charges of two counts of Murder in the 2nd Degree against Andrew Joseph Dikken. He was taken into custody around 3 p.m. on Tuesday at the Renville County Sheriff's Office in Olivia, Minnesota. He was brought to the Sheriff's Office by family members who have been cooperating with the investigation and related search for Dikken over the past two weeks. He was wanted in the September 2 double homicide of Kara Monson and Christopher Panitzke.

Andrew Dikken is being held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail, pending his appearance in district court. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance today at the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse in Granite Falls.

FULDA – 1992 Fulda High School graduate Aaron Van Oort has been recognized for his work as an attorney, and named to The Best Lawyers in America 2014 list for his work in appellate practice and antitrust litigation, as well as to the 2013 Minnesota Super Lawyers list for his work in appellate practice. Van Oort is a partner with the Minneapolis office of the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm, where he is a legal strategist, class action opponent and appellate lawyer who co-chairs the firm’s appellate advocacy group.

Before joining Faegre Baker Daniels, Van Oort clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia at the United States Supreme Court and for Chief Judge Richard Posner at the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Van Oort is the son of Dean and Jan Van Oort, Fulda, and resides with his wife, Tracy, and four children in the Twin Cities.

WORTHINGTON — The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) seek to provide seed grants to support the labor costs for clean energy projects that spur community development in Minnesota.

Project proposals should be for a community-based energy efficiency or renewable energy project that also provides a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological and community benefits.

Proposals must be submitted by 4 p.m. Oct. 18. To learn more and apply, visit http://rfp.mncerts.org. Past projects can be seen at http://projects.mncerts.org. Funding for these projects is provided through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.

MINNESOTA - A vote is expected today in the U.S. House that could lead to a reduction in food stamps by nearly 40 billion dollars over 10 years. According to a Minnesota Public Radio Report, a cut of that size would eliminate benefits to 40,000 Minnesotans.

Officials in Minnesota are worried if food shelves in the state will be able to pick up the slack for those who lose assistance, with the cuts. Already according to the US Department of Agriculture 1 in 10 Minnesotans lacks consistent access to healthy food.

The issue first surfaced in June after House Republicans removed funding for food stamps from the farm bill after disagreement over the size of cuts in the program.

The House vote on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the first of several votes expected in the next few weeks as Congress tries to deal with the budget, before the potential of a federal government shutdown.

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