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This Hour: Latest Minnesota news, sports, business and entertainment

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Suspect in officer's killing in serious condition

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The suspect in the killing of a Mendota Heights police officer is in serious condition in a St. Paul hospital following a violent confrontation Wednesday night with police.

Brian Fitch Sr.'s condition was updated Thursday by St. Paul police.

Police also identified the woman who was with Fitch, and also was injured, as Kelly Lee Hardy. Her condition wasn't announced.

Authorities say the 39-year-old Fitch is a career criminal who got out of prison in February on supervised release for a burglary conviction and was already a wanted fugitive again on a Department of Corrections warrant.

His record also includes convictions or arrests for theft, terroristic threats, assault, drug offenses, escaping custody and fleeing police officers.


First step for minimum wage as new laws kick in

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Aug. 1 brings a gaggle of new laws for Minnesota, ranging from the little-discussed (such as establishing Cesar Chavez Day in Minnesota every March 31) to the hard-fought (raising the state's minimum wage).

For Minnesota's lowest-paid workers, the most welcome move the Legislature made this year was bumping the minimum wage higher for the first time in nearly a decade. The hourly wage moves from $6.15 to $8, the first in a series of steps that will eventually set it at $9.50 an hour - among the highest in the country.

That's for big companies - those with gross annual sales topping a half-million dollars. Smaller companies phase up to $7.25 an hour next year, then $7.75 by August 2016. And starting in 2018, the minimum is indexed to inflation, which likely means automatic raises.


Appeals panel lets Minnesota union drive proceed

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A federal appeals court has lifted a legal obstacle to a unionization effort affecting thousands of Minnesota home day care operators.

The 8th District Court of Appeals said Thursday it was affirming a ruling by a judge who dismissed a pair of lawsuits seeking to block the drive. That judge ruled last summer the lawsuits were premature.

This probably isn't the last word in the case and an appeal is possible. A new case was filed this week to stop a companion drive that could organize personal care attendants for the elderly and disabled.

The proposed child care union would cover some 12,700 providers who take care of children who are subsidized by the state.

The union pushing to organize the operators must submit enough petitions to trigger an election.


Minnesota officials find treatment center at fault

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota officials have found a St. Paul-area residential treatment center at fault after a resident was left in subzero temperatures for hours and required hospital treatment.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the Minnesota Department of Health issued findings this week after investigating the incident at the South Metro Human Services facility.

Officials say a resident diagnosed with a mental illness and chemical dependency issues was absent from the facility in March. Temperatures fell as low as 15 degrees below zero when the person was missing overnight. The resident's hands and feet suffered frostbite.

The report indicates employees didn't properly conduct bed checks or communicate that a resident wasn't in the building.

The South Metro Human Services director says it's complying with the report's recommendations to prevent future issues.


Suspect pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A Minnesota man has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide in the traffic deaths of two sisters in eastern North Dakota.

KFGO radio reports that 51-year-old James Yahnke (YAWNK'-ee), of Nielsville, Minnesota, is accused of being drunk and driving 94 mph on a rough section of a Traill County road north of Hillsboro in May and losing control of the car.

Authorities say Yahnke and the two women were thrown from the vehicle. Twenty-three-year-old Mercedes Rowley, of Sharon, and 21-year-old Teja (TAY'-tah) Beyer, of Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, died at the scene. Yahnke was hurt and flown to a Fargo hospital for treatment.


Cook County removes convicted attorney

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - A county attorney in northeastern Minnesota has been replaced following his conviction for criminal sexual conduct.

Cook County commissioners at a special meeting Thursday voted to replace Tim Scannell. He was convicted Friday of two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

A prosecutor argued that Scannell abused his position of authority when he kissed and allegedly touched a 17-year-old female acquaintance in 2012.

WDIO-TV reports Commissioner Garry Gamble says board members removed Scannell based on a state law that says an office becomes vacant is there's a conviction of "any infamous crime or .... a violation of the official oath."

Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken was appointed as interim attorney. The office is up for election this November.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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