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

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Thousands without power due to storms

MCGREGOR, Minn. (AP) - Thousands of Minnesotans are without electricity after powerful storms moved through central and northeastern Minnesota.

Strong winds of 50 to 70 mph knocked down trees and power lines overnight Monday.

Minnesota Power and Lake Country Power are working to restore service to nearly 17,000 customers at midday Tuesday.

Sheriff's dispatchers in Aitkin County tell KARE-TV most of the wind damage is concentrated around McGregor and Big Sandy Lake.

At Eagle Point Campground in McGregor, a tree fell on a recreational vehicle, but there are no reports of injuries.


Convicted Minnesota murderer seeks new trial

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - A Minnesota man who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a father and son has asked for a new trial.

The La Crosse Tribune reports Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota, Minnesota filed a motion in La Crosse County Circuit Court. It claims nine of the 12 jurors believed he was guilty before his July 2013 trial.

Lepsch was convicted of killing Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A.J. at their family-owned camera store in downtown La Crosse. He then stole 27 pieces of camera equipment worth $17,000. Investigators were able to trace the stolen May's Photo merchandise to Lepsch.

He was found guilty of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, armed robbery with use of force and being a felon in possession of a firearm after a six-day trial.

A hearing on the motion hasn't been set.


Car lands in apartment living room

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - St. Cloud police are investigating a crash that sent a car sailing into the living room of an apartment.

The residents of the apartment were not in the living room when the car crashed through a large window and landed in the living room.

Police say the 24-year-old St. Cloud man driving the car suffered minor injuries Sunday night.

WCCO-TV says the apartment building was inspected and found to be structurally sound.


Dayton seeks pre-election release of MNsure rates

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton is pushing to publicize prices for Minnesota's health insurance exchange ahead of the fall election.

Dayton's move comes after Republicans criticized his administration for not committing to release rates before the election.

Dayton says publishing rates earlier will give Minnesotans more time to select a plan. His office released a letter to lawmakers outlining his plans Tuesday, just ahead of a meeting by a legislative committee that oversees the state exchange.

On Monday, Dayton told reporters he wasn't sure about releasing rates early and accused Republicans of playing politics.

Insurance rates must be published when open enrollment begins in mid-November, but rates could be published by Oct. 1 if all participating health plans agree. Last year, health plans approved releasing rates almost a month before open enrollment.


Wild's Vanek helping federal probe in New York

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - Minnesota Wild left wing Thomas Vanek says he's cooperating with federal authorities conducting an investigation in Rochester.

Local media report that Vanek was at the federal courthouse in Rochester to speak with officials. He signed a free-agent contract with Minnesota this month.

In statement released by his agent, Vanek says they have asked for his cooperation in an investigation. He says he's cooperating and isn't a target of the probe or prosecution.

Details of the investigation haven't been released. Messages left with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo and Vanek's attorney weren't initially returned.

The 30-year-old Austrian played nine seasons for the Buffalo Sabres before being traded to the New York Islanders last year. He was later dealt to Montreal. Vanek signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Wild on July 1.


Minnesota's KIDS COUNT rank brings good, bad news

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota has ranked among the states that best care for their youngest residents.

The annual report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation gauges the well-being of the nation's children. It focuses on six indicators, including economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

Minnesota Public Radio reports the KIDS COUNT data book ranks Minnesota fifth in the nation. But the report also found the state has some of the worst disparities in the country. Nearly half of Minnesota's black children live in poverty.

A director of the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota says high poverty areas are often less safe and offer fewer resources.

The KIDS COUNT report used data from 2012. It determined 15 percent of Minnesota children are living in poverty.


Attorney: Ventura has failed to prove defamation

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - An attorney for the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle says former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has failed to prove he was defamed in Kyle's book.

Ventura accused Kyle of making up a story in which he said he punched Ventura in a California bar in 2006 after Ventura made remarks critical of Navy SEALs.

Kyle attorney John Borger told a federal jury in St. Paul on Tuesday that Ventura is either deluding himself or lying about that night.

He also rejected Ventura's claim that the book hurt his earning potential. Borger said Ventura's star had faded, and his reputation was hurt more by his pursuit of the lawsuit after Kyle died than anything Kyle wrote.

Ventura's attorneys are to give their closing argument later Tuesday.


ND wants specifics on backlogged grain shipments

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota's congressional delegation is pressing Canadian Pacific Railway to provide specifics on its backlog of grain shipments.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board told Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway in June to submit plans to address backlogs in northern Plains states and begin filing weekly updates.

But the state's congressional delegation says Canadian Pacific's weekly report does not include a specific number of past-due rail cars or average lateness.

The railroad did not immediately return telephone calls to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

BNSF Railway reported 3,908 past due rail cars in North Dakota averaging 26 days late. That's down about 14 percent from the previous week.

BNSF says North Dakota had the most past-due rail cars followed by Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota.

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

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