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

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MINNESOTA STATE MANKATO-COACH REINSTATED

Players practice for reinstated Minnesota St Mankato coach

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - Coach Todd Hoffner is back on the field at Minnesota State after football players ended their brief boycott of spring practice.

Hoffner joined his team for practice Friday. The Free Press of Mankato reports he did not run the drills but instead watched the team work out.

Hoffner was reinstated after being exonerated of having child pornography on his cellphone. But in a show of support for interim coach Aaron Keen, the players refused to practice when Hoffner returned Wednesday.

After meeting with coaches Thursday, the players said they would play for Hoffner.

Hoffner had accepted the head coaching job at Minot State University, but decided to return to Mankato after he was cleared of wrongdoing.

Junior defensive lineman Barry Ballinger says the Mavericks are "glad to be moving forward."

COAL POWER-BORDER DISPUTE

Judge strikes down part of Minnesota energy law

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A federal judge has found that part of a Minnesota law designed to promote the use of renewable energy is unconstitutional and she barred state officials from enforcing it.

In a 48-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said Friday that part of the Next Generation Energy Act improperly requires North Dakota utilities to seek approval from Minnesota in order to do business.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton says he strongly disagrees with Nelson's opinion and the state will appeal.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (STEN'-jem) says the ruling is a vindication, and he's always felt that North Dakota businesses shouldn't have to ask Minnesota regulators for permission to operate.

Among other things, the 2007 law bars utilities from buying power from new plants that produce carbon dioxide emissions.

BUY THE FARM

Court case to test Minnesota's 'Buy the Farm' law

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A case set for trial next week is expected to test Minnesota's "Buy the Farm" law, which is meant to require utilities building high-voltage power lines to buy out farms in the way if affected landowners demand it.

The case pits the CapX2020 project against Cedar Summit Farm near New Prague (prayg), a dairy that fills glass bottles on site and feeds its cows a 100 percent grass diet.

Dave and Florence Minar say they can't properly operate an organic dairy farm under a 345,000-volt power line, so they want CapX2020 to buy their land and pay the costs of relocating their operation.

CapX2020 is an initiative by 11 utilities including Xcel Energy and Great River Energy to expand the region's electrical grid. It's challenging the reasonableness of the demand.

GIRLFRIEND SHOT

Man accused of fatally shooting girlfriend in SUV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A St. Paul man is accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend while she sat in the back of an SUV with their infant son.

Nineteen-year-old Timothy Hendricks is charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.

The Star Tribune reports 20-year-old Michelle Marie Ploetz of St. Paul was taken off life support at Regions Hospital and died from a gunshot wound to the head.

According to the complaint, Hendricks and Ploetz had gone to dinner with Ploetz's father Wednesday so Hendricks could see his 8-month-old son.

After dinner, Ploetz's father was driving when he heard a "pop," pulled over, heard another "pop" and tried to wrestle the gun away from Hendricks.

Hendricks told police he was hearing voices and "just snapped." A defense attorney has not been appointed yet.

EX-GIRLFRIEND ATTACKED

Man accused of attacking ex-girlfriend in her home

MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) - Bail has been set for a man accused of breaking into a home in western Minnesota and trying to kidnap his ex-girlfriend.

Fifty-two-year-old William Dean faces charges of attempted kidnapping and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Prosecutors say Dean broke into his ex-girlfriend's home in Comstock last week, physically assaulted her and shocked her with a stun gun.

Dean was tracked down by cellphone towers as he left the area for Bismarck. He was brought back to Minnesota after waiving extradition.

Clay County Attorney Brian Melton tells KFGO-AM that despite her injuries, the victim helped prosecutors put together a strong case.

Bond was set Friday at $500,000 with no conditions, or $250,000 with conditions. An attorney has not yet been appointed for Dean, and he remains in jail.

SCHOOL POOL DROWNING

Police: Horseplay preceded boy's pool drowning

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (AP) - A police investigation finds horseplay preceded the drowning of a 12-year-old boy in a swimming pool at St. Louis Park Middle School.

Minnesota Public Radio says investigative reports into the drowning of Abdullahi Charif were released this week.

The reports say Charif joined other boys in a game of "king of the hill," pushing each other off an inflatable raft.

One boy told police Charif - known to be a poor swimmer - was in the deep end when someone pushed him in the back, causing Charif to belly flop onto the water.

A gym teacher found Charif unresponsive at the bottom of the pool as the swimming class was wrapping up February 27th. The boy later died.

Last week the Hennepin County Attorney's office declined to file charges.

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

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