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DNA exonerates man convicted with eyewitness testimony

Some people in Minnesota who have been convicted of crimes using eyewitness evidence may have been wrongly identified. In California, a man was exonerated of rape charges after serving eight years in prison when DNA evidence showed he did not commit the crime. The man had been identified by both the victim and a witness.

A co-director of the California Innocence Project says that initial errors in eyewitness identification are often compounded and solidified over time. A witness might identify a photo in a lineup that most resembles the person they saw. Later, for the in-person lineup, they will then identify the person from the photo. By the time the trial happens, these multiple rounds of identification will have reinforced the witness's confidence that the right person has been chosen. In the rape case, the victim said she was 70 percent certain at the time she made the photo identification, but by the time of the trial, she said she was 100 percent certain. Seeing the man in person reinforced her certainty. A witness who made the same identification was from another race, and studies have shown a higher rate of inaccuracy in cross-racial identification.

States step up alcohol laws on the road

Some people in Minnesota are advocating for even stricter alcohol laws, claiming that new laws will help cut down on the number of accidents linked to drunk driving. During 2016, over 1 million people were arrested nationwide and charged with driving under the influence. Some claim that the number of drunk driving arrests represent only a small percentage of the total number of people who actually drive while intoxicated every year.

In every state of the country, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration for drivers is .08. The Centers for Disease Control says that this regulation has improved road safety but attribute 29 car accident deaths daily to drunk driving. A number of states are stepping up enforcement of a number of laws pertaining to alcohol and driving. These include the use of sobriety checkpoints and harsher enforcement of laws requiring bars and stores to only serve alcohol to those aged 21 or older. In addition, some advocates are urging states to raise taxes on alcohol purchases. States that increase alcohol enforcement and penalties can reportedly reduce the number of drunk drivers and related crashes.

Supreme Court rules that rental car drivers have privacy rights

Many Minnesotans rent cars each year, and some people allow others who are not on the rental agreements to drive them. On May 14, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that people who are not on the rental agreements for the cars that they have borrowed still have privacy rights against warrantless searches of the vehicles.

In the case, a man was pulled over while he was driving a rental car that his fiancee had rented. He was not on the rental agreement, however. The police reportedly noticed that he appeared to be nervous, and he allegedly told them he had a marijuana cigarette. The police then searched the whole vehicle, including the trunk. They told the man that they didn't need a warrant since he was not the authorized driver of the car.

Steve Wilkos' DWI charge will likely be erased

For most Minnesota fans, Steve Wilkos is best known as the former bouncer for the Jerry Springer Show and a TV host in his own right. For some law enforcement officers, Wilkos is best known as a man they took into custody for DWI after his car flipped in a single car accident. Now, it appears he may resolve his DWI arrest without having a conviction on his record.

The story of Wilkos' arrest has taken some twists and turns. Wilkos flipped his car in January, leading to injuries severe enough to cause his show to temporarily stop filming while he recovered. Wilkos' original story was that he was having trouble driving at night and lost control of his vehicle as he was reaching for his eyeglasses. However, it has since come to light that Wilkos was taken into custody by Connecticut police for DWI after the crash. Wilkos reportedly later admitted to the arrest, citing a lack in judgment.

Two arrested and accused of drug charges

Two people were arrested in Minnesota on April 18 and charged with drug offenses according to the Becker County Sheriff's Office. The 45-year-old woman and 34-year-old man were charged in Becker County District Court with first-degree possession of a controlled substance and second-degree possession of a controlled substance.

The pair were taken into custody after a drug trafficking investigation on April 12 by an array of police agencies throughout the state including the West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Police agencies reportedly seized approximately $20,000 in cash as well as 425 grams of heroin and cocaine mixed with fentanyl.

Minnesota drug bust leads to arrests

A series of drug investigations has led to the arrests of almost 30 Minnesota residents for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine and opioids. The arrests were announced by the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office on April 2.

According to authorities, the purpose of the operation was to identify individuals suspected of dealing meth and prescription drugs in the Hubbard County area. Over the course of several investigations, most of which were conducted during the past six months, law enforcement agents arrested 29 defendants. They also seized large quantities of meth, opiates, hash oil, marijuana, firearms and drug profits.

Definition and penalties for kidnapping in Minnesota

In Minnesota, kidnapping is defined as confining a person or taking a person from one place to another without the consent of that person for one or more of four reasons. Those reasons are to hold that person as a hostage or for ransom, to terrify or harm the person, to assist in an escape or to keep a person in involuntary servitude.

If a person is younger than 16, the person's parent or legal guardian must consent to a person being moved or confined or the act will also be considered kidnapping. Kidnapping a person younger than 16 may carry increased penalties. The penalty for causing harm to the person kidnapped or for failing to release the kidnapped person somewhere safe may include up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Minnesota court ruling opens doors for DWI appeals

Minnesota motorists may have more grounds to appeal convictions for driving under the influence following a recent ruling by a Hennepin County Court judge. The ruling stated that the DataMaster, a machine used to record the results of breath tests for alcohol across the state, had rounded up one person's test result, potentially leading to her DWI conviction.

The woman in question had appealed to change her drunk driving conviction. When the judge examined the case, she ruled that it is likely that the driver's first breath sample did not show a test result of 0.16 or greater. She further noted that these results were, therefore, an insufficient basis to revoke the driver's license to operate a vehicle.

Minneapolis suburb leads state in DWI arrests per capita

A grant awarded to Edina in 2015 from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety division has funded a full-time drunk driving enforcement officer for the city. This position as well as the three major highways that cross the Minneapolis suburb have produced the state's highest number of DWI arrests by population. In 2017, the law enforcement for the community of 51,000 made 476 arrests for impaired driving. Only Minneapolis police made more arrests for the same offenses, and that city has approximately eight times the population of Edina.

Traffic law enforcement has been a traditional priority for Edina. Police cars monitoring traffic from under bridges or along exit ramps are a frequent sight. According to the city's police chief, residents complain about traffic violations on the busy highways.

Two men arrested in separate drug busts

Two Minnesota men are facing drug charges following two separate drug busts in Lakeville. The charges were filed in Dakota County Court.

According to authorities, the first defendant, age 28, was arrested after officers from the Southwest Metro Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at his Lakeville home on Dec. 31. As officers approached the residence, they saw a vehicle pull away from the scene. The vehicle was pulled over, and officers said they could smell marijuana. The vehicle was searched, and officers allegedly discovered nine sealed bags of suspected marijuana. They also located 14 gallon-sized bags of edible gummies, which tested positive for THC. A search of the defendant's home uncovered an additional 183 sealed bags of suspected marijuana, more edible THC gummies, multiple containers of THC wax, a digital scale, drug paraphernalia and $26,000 in cash.

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