Bowman woman pleads not guilty to meth charges

A Bowman woman facing five drug-related charges pleaded not guilty at her preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Nick Gates, South Sakakawea Narcotics Task Force investigator, said Social Services alerted authorities in July that there was allegedly a 17-year-old babysitter in Chelsey Soehren's home while drug paraphernalia was present. The babysitter was reportedly watching two children at the time.

Gates said the babysitter, the mother of the babysitter and two children were at the residence when officers arrived.

"... at approximately 4 a.m. that same morning, Ms. Soehren had shown the babysitter methamphetamine," Gates said. "She believed that from the story she was told, Ms. Soehren was intending to sell the methamphetamine and may have in fact been under the influence of methamphetamine at that time."

Gates said the babysitter directed officers to several pieces of drug paraphernalia inside and outside the residence.

Officers had search warrants for Soehren's residence, her vehicle and they had a warrant to search Soehren, Gates said.

Officers reportedly went to Soehren's work where they searched her and her purse. About 2.1 grams of methamphetamine were allegedly found in Soehren's purse, Gates said.

"She told me that she received approximately an eight ball of methamphetamine, which is approximately 3.5 grams, from an individual named Jake," Gates said. "Her intention was to sell the methamphetamine and give Jake ... approximately $600 and she would be able to keep whatever money was left over for herself."

Gates said Soehren didn't know what "Jake's" last name was.

Soehren had allegedly told Gates she had sold one gram of the meth.

Soehren is charged with delivering meth, possession of meth with intent to deliver, possession of meth paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

Jay Greenwood, Soehren's attorney, said officers did not have a search warrant for Soehren's place of work. The warrants also didn't allow officers to search containers that were not on Soehren, or in her home or vehicle.

During the hearing, Stark County Assistant State's Attorney Jim Hope said he expected Greenwood to file a motion to suppress evidence gathered in the case. Greenwood said he likely would.

After the hearing, Hope declined comment on the issue. Greenwood was unavailable for comment after the hearing.

Despite an objection from Soehren, Southwest Judicial District Judge Zane Anderson ordered that Soehren can not contact the babysitter.

Part of Soehren's conditions of release stipulated she take random drug screenings and live with her parents in Bowman. However, Greenwood said she would like to move into her own apartment in Bowman and Anderson agreed to let her.

The baby sitter who called 911 said little Julia Rivera looked "like she was on another planet." Injuries included a skull fracture and brain injuries

It didn't take the baby sitter long to realize that something was terribly wrong when Rachel Reeves brought her 15-month-old daughter to the sitter's Minnetonka apartment on March 26.

Reeves placed little Julia Leigh Rivera in a crib without removing her snowsuit and told the baby sitter to leave her alone. If the toddler woke up, Reeves instructed, the sitter was to give her some medication Rivera put in the refrigerator.

About 15 minutes after Reeves dropped Julia off, the baby sitter pulled off the snowsuit and discovered to her horror that Julia was in bad shape. Her eyes were open but "had a blank look," the sitter later told police. She was "extremely pale and just with her eyes very empty ... like she was on another planet."

Four days later, Julia was dead.

After a six-month investigation by Minnetonka police, Reeves, 29, of Burnsville, was charged late last week with second-degree murder in the death of her daughter. The Hennepin County medical examiner listed the cause of death as a homicide by blunt-force trauma. Prosecutors say Reeves caused her daughter's death by assaulting her in a way that caused a skull fracture, a detached retina and a significant brain injury.

According to the criminal complaint, Julia lived at the time with her single mother and a 7-year-old sister in a Richfield apartment.

On March 25, the older sister spent the night with friends, leaving Reeves alone with Julia from 3:15 p.m. until 7 a.m. on March 26, when Reeves brought her to the baby sitter in Minnetonka.

Worried about the baby's "blank look," the sitter, whose age and name the complaint does not reveal, began to prepare her some milk when Julia arched her back and began "twisting," the complaint said. The sitter called on her adult son for help. He called 911 and performed CPR, following instructions from a dispatcher. Emergency responders arrived to find the baby without a pulse and not breathing.

She died March 30 at Minneapolis Children's Hospital.

Reeves told police that Julia had been sick for about two weeks and that she took her to the pediatrician March 24 because she was "pulling at her ears, irritable, fussy and frequently waking at night." The pediatrician described her state at the time as "alert, interactive, no acute distress," and found no injuries before prescribing an antibiotic.

Reeves also told police that the only injury to her daughter was when Julia fell out of bed 2 to 3 feet to the floor two weeks earlier. But doctors said such a fall could not explain Julia's injuries.

Reeves provided several other possible explanations, but none was plausible, according to doctors and the medical examiner. Reeves said she had been the only person with the baby.

Reeves, who was arrested Thursday, will make her next court appearance Sept. 30. She remains jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Reeves' employer, who was not identified in the complaint, told police she was often tired at work and fell asleep at meetings. She reportedly told her supervisor that Julia did not sleep well and often woke her at night.

And Julia's older sister told police that the toddler often cried and woke her mother. The sister reported that she would try to soothe Julia so her mother could sleep.

In an April 2 online obituary for Julia, dozens of people expressed their condolences to Reeves, who left the following message dated July 11 for her daughter:

"I miss u ... I think about u everyday ... I love u mamacita chula! Love always, your mom."

Abby Simons --612-673-4921

Credit: Star Tribune, Minneapolis

Couple's Web site offers tips on travel with animals

-Hitting the road with a medium-sized shar pei was manageable.

Then Buster joined Amy and Rod Burkert's family.

The German shepherd made booking hotels a challenge and prompted the Pennsylvania couple to develop a Web site that helps others who want to share vacations with their pets.

"I spent two full days looking for seven hotels on our road trip and said, 'There has got to be a better way to do this,'"

said Amy Burkert, a native of Gays Mills. "But there wasn't.

I spent another two days looking and couldn't find anything."

The Burkerts launched in June after researching lodging, dining and attractions nationwide that welcome both humans and their furry friends.

"Dogs want to be with people. Our dogs want to go. They don't want to be left behind," Amy Burkert said.

"For some, pets are our children," Rod Burkert said.

Traveling with pets can be more economical, as boarding costs can exceed $600, Rod Burkert said. As a sign of the times, more places are becoming more accepting of four-legged visitors, he said.

The Burkerts also have included information at the site on veterinarians as well as doggie day care and pet sitters, since some attractions people will want to visit simply won't accommodate pets, they said.

The Burkerts are on their first tour, with stops planned in Cleveland, Chicago, Iowa, Canada and Niagara Falls.

Ty and Buster are traveling with the couple in the vehicle and they'll stop along the way to check out an RV.

"We're traveling with our pets to make it easy to travel with yours," Rod Burkert said during a stop in La Crosse.

"We gave up our jobs for our dogs," Amy Burkert added.

"We call ourselves recovering accountants," Rod Burkert said.

Credit: La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

NEWS: 2 who held kids at gunpoint get 8-year terms

Tamara Peterson's two young children were at home with a teenage baby sitter when she received a phone call at work that they had just been robbed and threatened by three armed men.

"My [7-year-old] daughter still jumps when someone walks in," Ms. Peterson told Judge Denise Ann Dartt in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Monday. Ms. Peterson said the intruders told her 5-year-old son he'd be killed if he moved.

Two of three men were sentenced yesterday after being convicted of forcing their way into a home in the 1800 block of Marne Avenue and robbing the house after ordering the two young children and their 15-year-old baby sitter to the floor with threats.

Kenneth Powell, 20, of 411 Langdon St., and Darnell Cox, 18, of 1902 North Superior St., were each sentenced to eight years in prison Monday. They entered no-contest pleas Aug. 18 to one count each of aggravated burglary and kidnapping, both with one-year gun specifications.

A third suspect, Joshua Robinson, 17, is charged with one count each of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary as well as three counts of kidnapping, each with gun specifications. He is being held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $375,000 bond and is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 15.

Authorities said Powell and Cox broke into the home about 6:45 p.m. May 27. They fled with clothing, cash, and televisions.

They were arrested a short time later after police found the getaway vehicle with the stolen items inside.

Cox and Powell apologized for their actions and promised the judge they would emerge from prison as different people.

"... I'm working to change my life," Cox said. "When I go to prison, I'll come out a new man."

Judge Dartt sentenced both Cox and Powell to seven years for each charge plus a mandatory one-year gun specification.

She ordered the sentences be served concurrently.

As part of the plea, Judge Dartt dismissed for each defendant two counts of kidnapping as well as a charge of aggravated robbery.

Ms. Peterson said she knows the incident could have been worse and is thankful her children and their baby-sitter weren't injured. But she wanted the men to be held accountable for their actions and for the long-term impact they had on her children.

Judge Dartt said that each of the defendants had juvenile records similar to the crime that brought them before her.

She also noted the ages of the victims. "The victims in this case were very young," she said.

"The baby-sitter was only 15," she said. "I find that to be very disturbing."

Suspect should be tried as juvenile

Psychologists from both sides have recommended that a teenage boy charged with luring a 7-year-old girl off a playground and raping her inside his Crofton townhouse be tried as a juvenile.

The recommendations came despite one of the psychologists testifying Wednesday, during the first day of the two-day hearing, that there was a "high risk" that David Benjamin Raszewski, 17, of Granite Court, would attack another girl.

The doctors said the juvenile system would simply offer a better chance of rehabilitating the teen.

The hearing is expected to resume Tuesday in county Circuit Court in Annapolis, with defense attorney James Crowford Jr. arguing his case for the juvenile system and Assistant State's Attorney Sandra Howell making her final push for adult court.

Circuit Court Judge Philip T. Caroom is expected to make the final decision at that time.

Raszewski, a junior at South River High School, is charged as an adult with first-degree rape in a March 20 attack on the girl who was playing behind his house. He is being held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center.

If convicted in adult court, he faces up to life in prison. If found delinquent in juvenile court, he can be held until he is 21 at a juvenile facility.

Raszewski is one of two Crofton teens charged in high-profile crimes now trying to have their cases tried in juvenile court.

Javel George, 16, is charged as an adult with manslaughter in the May 30 death of Christopher Jones. A waiver hearing is scheduled Oct. 9 and a trial is scheduled Oct. 15.

According to charging documents, Raszewski confessed to police that he approached the girl just before 4 p.m., after the child's baby sitter had left the playground to take the girl's younger brother to use the bathroom.

He told police he asked the girl to come inside his home while his own mother was out. He led the child upstairs, pushed her into his bedroom and molested her, police said.

Howell said yesterday that Raszewski approached the girl for the sole purpose of sex, that the child cried during the attack and that he knew what he did was wrong.

"I think I practically destroyed this girl for the rest of her life," Raszewski told police, according to Howell.

New details

The hearing, attended by several members of the families of both Raszewski and the victim, revealed new details about the teen and his life.

Dr. Teresa Grant, the psychologists hired by the state, testified that doctors at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore evaluated Raszewski as a child and wanted to diagnose him with autism. She said Raszewski's mother rejected that diagnosis because of the stigma associated with the disorder.

Grant and Dr. Michael Hendricks, the defense expert, both said Raszewski had an unspecified "autism-spectrum disorder." They also said he appeared to be of at least average intelligence, if not high-average.

Raszewski has had at least one girlfriend -- who was two years older than him -- and is addicted to pornography, Grant said. She added that after the rape, Raszewski played poker with his mother as if nothing had happened.

Grant said Raszewski moved around a lot growing up, spending several years in Hawaii before his parents divorced and moved to Maryland. He did not have any alcohol or drug problems as far as she could tell and did not suffer from any conduct disorders, she said.

Howell noted that Raszewski had a lot of trouble learning in school, holding up a binder full of "individual education programs" developed for Raszewski over the years.

Grant said she believed there was a "high risk" that Raszewski would re-offend, but she still recommended the case be handled in juvenile court. She said the juvenile system would offer more intensive treatment and that with that help he would be less likely to harm anyone else.

"He needs very specific sex-offender treatment," Grant said, arguing he be placed in a secure noncommunity juvenile facility.

Hendricks agreed that Raszewski needed "focused treatment," but said he could receive that treatment almost anywhere -- including home. He told the court that with treatment in the juvenile system, there was a "90 percent" chance Raszewski would not offend again.

"He really wants to do something to be better," Hendricks said.

Baby sitter to serve 5 years in boy's death

Amari Jackson's mother, Sara Hicks, cried and lunged toward Sharon Patterson in the courtroom Tuesday when Patterson tried to apologize for her negligence in Amari's death by dehydration.

The emotional scene came just after Superior Court Judge Bruce W. Thompson imposed a 10-year sentence on Patterson, to be suspended after she serves five years.

Judicial marshals quickly prevented Hicks from getting close to Patterson, then pushed Hicks out of the courtroom. She could be heard crying loudly in the corridor and exclaiming, "Five years !"

Late Tuesday afternoon, Hicks called the sentence "a disgrace" and the trial "a mockery of his death."

"Shegotoffwithmurder,"Hicks said. "The marshals should've let me go (at Patterson). If they had, justice would've been served."

Thompson, who June 16 found Patterson guilty of criminally negligent homicide, two counts of risk of injury to a child and two counts of intentional cruelty, could have imposed a prison sentence of up to 31 years. But he decided Patterson's cognitive disabilities (she is classified as "mildly mentally retarded") mitigated the sentence.

The sentencing marks the end of a case that began the morning of Feb. 26, 2008, when Hamden police went to the Putnam Avenue apartment Patterson shared with her brother, Robert Patterson, and found 23-month-old Amari unresponsive. He was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The office of the chief state medical examiner ruled Amari died from dehydration. Police said Amari was deprived of liquids for at least seven days, and Sharon Patterson fed him hot sauce to discourage him from drinking out of people's glasses and wetting beds.

Hicks, now 21, said she left Amari with Patterson because Hicks was pregnant and suffering from morning sickness. She said she didn't know Patterson has a mental disability.

Robert Patterson said he had been concerned about Amari and had told his sister she should give him fluids, but then he left for work. He pleaded guilty to risk of injury to a minor and received a suspended five-year prison sentence. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Michael Pepper has said Robert Patterson's role in Amari's death was "arguably passive."

During legal arguments Tuesday, Pepper told Thompson that Sharon Patterson, now 40, should receive a "significant" sentence because "over approximately 10 days, she tortured this child."

Pepper charged Patterson "purposely deprived him of water and purposely served him hot sauce as a form of punishment." When she was questioned by police after Amari's death, he asserted, she tried to cover up what she had done by giving different versions of events.

Pepper said, "I can't imagine the suffering" the boy endured. He described Patterson's actions as "flat-out cruel."

But defense attorney Joseph E. Lopez said, "I don't think Miss Patterson is a monster." He added that she is "not a mean person."

Lopez noted psychiatric experts found Patterson's ability to make moral judgments were that of a 6-year-old.

"She has had a very hard life," Lopez added. "Her mother was an alcoholic and had substance abuse issues. She (Sharon Patterson) was raped at the age of 12. Five of her children have been taken away from her for various issues."

Co-defense attorney Scott Jones said Hamden police misunderstood her statements. "She said she did in fact give Amari water. She did not intentionally deprive him of water over an extended period of time."

When Hicks addressed Thompson, reading from a statement, she asked for "the most severe sentence the law allows." But she added, "There is no sentence sufficient for what happened to my son, not even death."

Hicks noted she has two other children, "but there is no love greater than that of a mother for her first-born child."

She charged Patterson was "getting high and drunk while my son was dying." She concluded, "Today I cry out for justice for Amari."

Thompson declared it "one of the most difficult cases I've had. ... I have a child whose life has been cut off before it could really begin and a mother who's devastated. There is a defendant with significant cognitive disabilities, which is why I acquitted her of manslaughter."

Thompson said the evidence showed Patterson "did not appreciate the fact that what she did could lead to the death of Amari Jackson. But the evidence shows there were deliberate actions with reckless disregard for the consequences."

Heimposedthe10-yearsentence, suspended after five years, for one of the risk of injury to a minor counts. On the other risk of injury count, he imposed a one-year sentence, to be served concurrently.

For negligent homicide, Thompson imposed a one-year sentence, also concurrent and three-year concurrent sentences on two cruelty counts. After her release, Patterson will face five years of probation.

When Thompson asked Patterson if she had anything to say, Patterson said, "I'm sorry," but the rest of her remarks were never delivered because of Hicks' outburst.


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