September 20 news

WORTHINGTON – Today is Friday, which means we have a construction update from the City of Worthington Engineering Department. Bituminous overlay on East Ninth Avenue from 11 Street to Clary Street and 13th Street from East Ninth to Eighth Avenue was completed on Thursday. Minor topsoil and turf work remains at the ADA ramps.

WORTHINGTON – Over at Nobles County District Court in Worthington, testimony continues in the retrial of Josua Fraga, accused of murdering his 2-year-old niece Samantha in 2008. It was an emotional day in court on Thursday, as the jury heard from Fraga’s two oldest children. Fraga’s 19-year-old son Josue David, when asked how he felt about his father accusing him of hurting and killing Samantha, answered curtly, “I hate it, to put it lightly. That he’d try to pin it on me… it absolutely infuriates me.”

Josue David, who was 13 at the time of the murder, admitted later he had touched the toddler sexually 20 to 30 times in the months she and her brother lived with the Fraga family. He told the jury Thursday he had never penetrated the child. When asked if he had done anything to cause Samantha’s death, Josue David answered without hesitation that no, he had not.

Earlier in the day, Fraga’s 17-year-old daughter had spent about two hours on the stand, at one point breaking down in tears until Judge David Christensen recessed court for a few minutes so she could compose herself. During that time, Fraga also broke down and cried.

The teenage girl had been trying to answer questions about her father’s alleged raping of her since she was in first or second grade. As the questions got more intimate, the girl searched for the right words, finally stating, “I’m sorry, I’m just so uncomfortable talking about this.”

She said the night Samantha died, Fraga had gotten her out of bed and brought her into his bedroom, where “he tried to do things to me like he usually did.” Her father told her it was her refusal to do those things that caused him to hurt Samantha, holding her head in the water of the toilet and under the bathtub faucet.

As she spoke, the majority of jury members watched her intensely, some fighting tears or placing hands over their mouths in horror. A few stared at the ceiling or a wall, as if hoping to give the daughter privacy.

In a letter to a friend, the teenager said she had been raped by her father and watched him kill Samantha. The letter was written after she read an article that said her father was trying to blame Josue David for what had happened to Samantha.

She admitted she could not remember what she had told a detective who had driven to St. Cloud to talk to her after the letter was discovered. When defense attorney Cecil Naatz asked if he could approach the witness with a transcript to refresh her memory, Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Bill Klumpp objected, the judge sent the jury from the room and admonished Naatz as the attorneys began to argue rules of impeachment of a witness.

“You’re playing with fire when you’re examining this witness,” the judge said, adding that the girl was coming across to the jury as credible. “If you try to belittle her a little bit, that is your prerogative. But this court has an obligation to protect her.”

Scheduled on the stand today are Worthington Det. Sgt. Kevin Flynn and some social service staff.

WORTHINGTON - Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate will host its second annual Lanterns for Life fundraiser Saturday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. at Centennial Park in Worthington. Lanterns for Life is one of two fundraisers the organization hosts each year. The other is a motorcycle run in early June, marking Regan Roloff’s June 2011 diagnosis of stomach cancer.

She founded Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate with her husband, Lonnie, as a way to help local people going through cancer treatment. The idea came after she chose to get a second opinion in Rochester and took her treatments there.

Roloff said nine out of 10 times, cancer patients from southwest Minnesota have to travel outside of their area for treatment. Money raised from Saturday’s event will be added to a fund that the Roloffs use to purchase gas cards and offer financial assistance for motel rooms to people undergoing cancer treatment.

Anyone interested in donating to the organization may do so during Saturday night’s event. Donations can also be made online at cancerdoesntdiscriminate.org. The website also provides information for any cancer patient who needs financial assistance getting to appointments.

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — Air conditioners may soon be shutting off for the final time of the season, but that hasn’t stopped the Dickinson county board of supervisors from looking into a possible alternative should the courthouse air conditioning system fail in the future.

A representative of the vendor from which the county purchased its existing system in the courthouse was at this week’s supervisors meeting and estimated the cost of putting in a back up system, also known as a chiller, would in the range of $80,000 to $100,000. However, officials were quick to point out the cost could seem relatively minor compared to if county operations were forced to shut down for just one day due to a lack of air conditioning.

The supervisors took no action on the issue, saying they want to get some input from department heads.

MINNESOTA - A hotly-contested law that was to allow in-home child care providers to vote on whether to unionize has been temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court.

Officials of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is representing Minnesota providers who oppose unionization, said they received notice late Thursday that their motion for an injunction blocking the law was granted by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to lawyers for the group, that means the child-care union election cannot take place until the injunction is lifted. The appeals court said it wants to wait to see if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear an appeal on a related case dealing with unionization of home-care workers.

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