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Minnesota roundup: Legislator announces bid for attorney general; Duluth woman hit by SUV dies

ST. PAUL—State Rep. John Lesch, a veteran lawmaker from St. Paul, is launching a bid for Minnesota attorney general.

A longtime prosecutor for the city of St. Paul, Lesch was first elected to the Minnesota House in 2002. After an unofficial trip to Iraq in 2006, Lesch enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard in 2009, when he was in his late 30s.

In an interview, the Democrat said he would bring trial experience, as well as legislative experience as an aggressive advocate for consumer protection and public safety, to the job and would serve as a guard "against the excesses of the Trump administration."

Already, former Golden Valley Rep. Ryan Winkler, a Democrat, and former Eagan Rep. Doug Wardlow, a Republican, have filed campaign committees to run for attorney general.

Attorney General Lori Swanson, a Democrat, is considered a likely candidate for governor next year.

Lesch, who said he would abide by the DFL Party endorsement in the attorney general's race, said he filed his campaign committee this week on the "contingency" that she decides to leaves the post.


Missing Brainerd man's cause of death is undetermined

BRAINERD, Minn.—The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office has listed the provisional manner and cause of death of a Brainerd man missing since the fall of 2014 as undetermined, Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston stated Tuesday in an email.

The body of Mark Weizant was found March 25 on private property not far from the Mississippi River in a undeveloped wooded area about 2 miles south and west from where he was last seen in Brainerd..

Last week, Brainerd police reported there were no preliminary indications that foul play was involved in Welzant's death

Welzant was last seen the afternoon of Oct. 26, 2014, when he left his group home. He was recorded on video at the Holiday Gas Station in Brainerd shortly before 3 p.m.

Welzant, who is the youngest of 11 siblings, was diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome at 2 years of age, a rare genetic disorder that can result in a range of physical, mental and behavioral problems.

His birthday was celebrated on March 17 and he would have turned 50.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office are assisting the Brainerd Police Department on the case.


Duluth woman, 62, hit by SUV dies when thrown against electrical box

DULUTH, Minn.—A 62-year-old pedestrian was killed when she was struck by an SUV and thrown against an electrical box along London Road in Duluth on Tuesday, according to police and a witness at the scene.

The Duluth Police Department confirmed that the woman died when she was struck near the intersection of London Road and 40th Avenue East around 12:40 p.m. Authorities said the vehicle was driven by a 49-year-old woman.

Police did not immediately release the names of the driver or victim or any further details on the cause of the crash, saying an investigation was ongoing.

Duluth police spokesman Ron Tinsley said the driver was not injured. It was not immediately clear if she was in custody or if she would face any charges.

Investigators were on scene for most of the afternoon, and London Road was closed between 40th and 26th avenues east, with snarled traffic being rerouted to Superior Street.

Investigators from the traffic and crime scene units could be seen measuring and marking skid marks and taking photographs of the crash site and the roadway.


House approves bill reopening western Minnesota private prison

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a bill aimed at reopening the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, announced Tuesday in a news release.

Its approval in the House assures that the measure will be considered as House and Senate conference committees consider legislation. Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, has authored a companion bill in the Senate.

The legislation calls on the Department of Corrections to purchase and operate or enter into a lease agreement to own and operate the 1,650-bed prison in Appleton. It has not held inmates since February 2010. Its owner, CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, maintains it as licensed and ready for occupancy.

Miller said his legislation is designed to take advantage of the state-of-the art facility in Appleton to address overcrowding in state prisons.

It is also an economic development issue for Appleton. The re-pened prison would provide roughly 300 union jobs to Swift County residents, Miller said in the news release.