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Minnesota roundup: Pair of tornadoes in Minnesota could be record; Man admits killing his wife, leaving kids to find her body

ZIMMERMAN, Minn.—A pair of tornadoes reportedly touched down in Minnesota on Monday as a band of severe weather moved through the Midwest. If confirmed, the tornadoes would be the earliest in the state's recorded history.

The storm system largely missed the Twin Cities, which received only brief thundershowers, but it flattened trees and dropped ping-pong ball-size hail in areas to the north and south of the metro, according to Lisa Schmit, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"The Twin Cities escaped the strongest of the storm," Schmit said. "The metro was kind of right in the middle there."

The tornado sightings were reported late Monday afternoon near Zimmerman, about 50 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, and near Clarks Grove, about 90 miles south of the metro area. Both storms downed trees and damaged buildings, but no injuries were reported as of 8:30 p.m.

The weather service will dispatch surveyors to these locations Tuesday to assess the damage, Schmit said. If they confirm that it was caused by tornadoes, they would be the earliest in Minnesota history. That record is currently held by a 1968 twister that struck March 18 near Truman, in southern Minnesota.

Tuesday's forecast calls for clearer skies and temperatures reaching 48 degrees in the Twin Cities, but the metro will also be under a high wind watch until 9 p.m. Sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph are expected, with gusts up to 50 mph.

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Minnesota man admits killing his wife, leaving kids to find her body

ST. PAUL—A St. Paul man admitted in court Monday to fatally shooting his wife in their Maplewood home nearly two years ago and leaving her body to be found by her children.

Todd Larry Tennin pleaded guilty in Ramsey County District Court to one count of second-degree murder in the death of April Tennin on what was scheduled to be his first day of trial, according to court records.

The 32-year-old had previously faced charges of both first-degree murder while committing domestic abuse and second-degree murder in his wife's August 2015 slaying.

Per the terms of the plea agreement, Larry Tennin is expected to be sentenced to 40 years in prison, according to the Ramsey County attorney's office.

Larry Tennin put the barrel of a gun in his wife's mouth on Aug. 23, 2015, and pulled the trigger shortly after her children overheard the two quarreling in their Maplewood home, according to the criminal complaint.

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Scammers pose as police to try to rob 92-year-old Minnesota woman

ST. PAUL—Someone trying to scam a 92-year-old woman in St. Paul claimed to be a New York detective. She also received calls from people pretending to be St. Paul's police chief and a deputy chief and vouching for the fake detective.

The "detective" told her she needed to go buy a $2,000 gift card and wait for instructions.

When the woman went to Target on University Avenue and informed a cashier she was buying the large gift card for someone in law enforcement, employees worried she was being swindled and called police, said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman. A police officer was able to find the woman before she handed over the gift card.

The case comes amid several that appear to target senior citizens, and police reminded people on Monday to be wary of calls asking them to purchase gift cards for people.

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Dayton's prostate cancer recovering going slower than he expected

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's recovery from prostate surgery is going well but slower than the governor hoped.

The 70-year-old governor had a four-hour surgery on March 2 and had planned to leave Rochester's Mayo Clinic on Saturday — two days later — but delayed his return home until Sunday, March 5. He had also planned to make a public appearance on Monday but delayed his public re-emergence until Tuesday.

Dayton had announced in January that his doctors found cancer in his prostate during a routine check up. He decided to have surgery to treat the cancer, which Mayo medical providers confirmed had not spread outside his prostate.

"Gov. Dayton's surgery went as planned," his deputy chief of staff Linden Zakula said last week.

Despite the slight delay in his public appearance at the Capitol, his office said Dayton still has a full day of meetings on Monday.

Dayton's planned Tuesday news conference comes on the same day the governor will have to decide whether to sign a measure lifting the prohibition on Sunday liquor store sales in Minnesota. Dayton has said he will not veto the repeal bill but he could let it become law without his signature.

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Washington County sheriff steps down to be director of state sheriff's association

STILLWATER, Minn.—Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton will step down midterm to be the next executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association.

Hutton's last day as sheriff will be April 30. He will start at the association the next day, replacing Jim Franklin, who has been executive director for the past 14 years.

Hutton, 57, was elected sheriff in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014. He said Monday that he never planned to run for a fourth term.

"I would love to continue and complete my third term, but it came down to timing," Hutton said. "I couldn't say, 'Hey, could you wait until December 2018 to leave?' Jim Franklin needs to move on with his life as well. The offer was made, and I had to make a decision. It was not an easy decision."

Hutton, a resident of Stillwater, is known as a "cop's cop" with deep ties to the community and municipal enforcement officials. He oversees 255 full-time employees.

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Taco John's manager charged with felony theft

LUVERNE, Minn.—A Taco John's manager in southwestern Minnesota was charged with felony theft Monday after he and his wife, an assistant manager at the restaurant, allegedly took more than $31,000 from the store.

Jacob and Amber Wright allegedly failed to make regular deposits, instead spending it and repaying the shortfalls later, and gambled at an Iowa casino to try to win back their debt.

Store owners Ronald and John Christianson discovered the shortage and contacted police.

During questioning, Jacob Wright admitted he had taken money from deposits for 18 months.

Wright admitted he had taken $1,600 in cash, using it for a $400 utility bill, $300 to $400 in groceries, $100 for shoes for his kids and $500 to pay a debt to his mother.

Amber said she knew Jacob had taken the money to the casino to try to win enough money to pay back the owners. Jacob admitted to gambling at the casino in Larchwood, Iowa.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission told police Amber Wright had gambled $9,500 and Jacob Wright $51,000 over the six previous months.

Luverne is about 30 miles east of Sioux Falls, S.D.

The charge of felony theft carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, a $20,000 fine or both.

Jacob Wright is the defendant in the case. He is set to appear in Rock County District Court March 20.

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Third defendant pleads guilty in Hibbing man's death

DULUTH, Minn.—A third and final defendant has admitted to his role in connection with the slaying of a 20-year-old Hibbing man whose burned remains were found in an old mine pit in May.

Sean Joseph Powers, 19, pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of aiding an offender after the fact in the death of Jaysen Greenwood.

Authorities said Powers lied to police about the death of Greenwood, his roommate, and helped clean up the crime scene after he was killed by 19-year-old Dylan Bernard Gilbertson. Greenwood was stabbed, strangled and bludgeoned inside a Hibbing apartment before his body was taken to an old mine pit in Mountain Iron and set on fire, police said.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Karl Sundquist said Powers accepted a plea agreement that calls for a 41-month prison sentence. Sixth Judicial District Judge James Florey scheduled sentencing for April 3 in State District Court in Virginia.

Gilbertson pleaded guilty in November to intentional second-degree murder and received a 35-year prison sentence.

The other defendant in the case, Julianna Christine Sala, 16, pleaded guilty to a felony count of aiding an offender after the fact in juvenile court. She received an extended juvenile jurisdiction sentence that keeps her on probation until her 21st birthday while she attends school and undergoes treatment at Woodland Hills in Duluth.

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