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Minn. roundup: Tiger cub born at the Minnesota Zoo; Northwest Minnesota man charged with molesting babysitter

The female Amur Tiger cub was born at the Apple Valley zoo at 7:58 p.m. April 26, weighing in at 1.7 pounds. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Zoo

APPLE VALLEY, Minn.—For the first time in about five years, a tiger cub has been born at the Minnesota Zoo.

The female Amur cub was born at the Apple Valley zoo at 7:58 p.m. April 26, weighing in at 1.7 pounds.

The cub is the first offspring for mother Sundari, who was born at the zoo in June 2012. The cub's father, Putin, sired two other litters in Denmark, where he lived before coming to the zoo in 2015.

"Both the cub and Sundari are doing well," Josh Le, a zoo spokesman, said Tuesday.

Before her cub, Sundari was the last tiger born at the zoo. Her mother, Angara, is at Como Zoo in St. Paul.

Amur tigers, also known as the Siberian tiger, are exhibited on the Minnesota Zoo's Northern Trail.

The cub's arrival follows two unexpected deaths of Amur tigers at the Minnesota Zoo in 2016. Last May, 3-year-old Nadya died unexpectedly after falling ill. In November, the zoo's oldest tiger, 16-year-old Molniy,died due to chronic health issues from old age.

The zoo plans to hold a public naming contest for the new cub later this year.

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Northwest Minnesota man charged with molesting babysitter

FRAZEE, Minn.—A 34-year-old northwest Minnesota man has been charged with molesting a babysitter on two occasions.

Christopher Lynn Kuntz, 34, of Frazee has been charged in Becker County District Court with felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct and felony first-degree attempted criminal sexual conduct.

According to court records, on April 2 a Frazee police officer talked to a girl about a possible sex crime that allegedly occurred several years earlier, when she was under age 13 and babysitting for Kuntz. He allegedly went to her house to ask her to babysit, found her in her bedroom, and lay down in bed with her, pulling down her shorts and underwear and molesting her. Another of the charges stems from a year earlier, while she and others were playing games at Kuntz' house, he and others allegedly gave her alcohol. She fell asleep on a couch and allegedly woke up to find Kuntz molesting her.

Kuntz was already facing a felony charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for an incident that allegedly occurred March 11, when he is accused of having sexual contact with a girl under the age of 13 who was a guest in his home with her family—entering the bedroom she was staying in and molesting her.

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Minnesota Girls Scouts get bad checks for 600 boxes of cookies

ST. PAUL—St. Paul police are investigating a report that someone passed bad checks to Girl Scouts, getting away with more than 600 boxes of cookies throughout the Twin Cities.

The Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys office in St. Paul contacted police Friday to say they received nine worthless checks — with the same name on them — for Girl Scout cookies in St. Paul, Maplewood, Minneapolis, Shakopee, Brooklyn Park and other locations, according to Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman. The Girl Scouts were scammed of about $2,400, he said.

"These young girls work hard to sell their cookies," Ernster said. "They work with honesty and fairness in mind as they make these transactions. To think that a person would target them for this type of fraud is unthinkable. This case is under investigation, but we are optimistic that the person responsible will be held accountable."

The name of the person on the checks wasn't released

Girl Scouts River Valleys, which covers 49 counties in southern Minnesota, western Wisconsin and one county in Iowa, sold more than 4.4 million packages of cookies this year.

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Six charged in Bloomington home invasion, slaying

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Six suspects have been charged in the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man during a Bloomington home invasion and attempted drug robbery last week, Hennepin County authorities announced Tuesday.

The suspects — two women and four men — were all charged with two counts of second-degree murder, a count of first-degree burglary and a count of second-degree assault in Thursday night's death of Corey Elder at the Bloomington apartment complex..

The county attorney's office identified the six as Megan Cater, 19, and Noah Peterson, 20, both of Lakeville; Briana Martinson, 20, of Prior Lake; and Tarrance Murphy, 20, Maurice Verser, 33, and Alec Streit, 20, all of Minneapolis.

According to the criminal complaint, Cater and Martinson planned the home invasion because they wanted to steal Elder's drugs. The two women had previously purchased drugs from Elder.

The two women went to Elder's apartment door shortly after 10:30 p.m. Thursday and knocked. When Elder opened the door, Cater and Martinson burst inside, screaming that Elder and a woman who lived with him were liars. Murphy and Verser charged in behind Cater and Martinson. The two men pistol-whipped Elder while the two women ransacked the apartment, grabbing cocaine, Xanax and gabapentin from the bedroom, said the complaint.

Elder fought back, but eventually Verser threw him on a bed next to his housemate, who had been held at gunpoint, and fired one shot, policed said. The bullet nicked Elder's jugular vein, shattered his spine and fractured his skull.

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Judge tosses complaint over fetal tissue research

MINNEAPOLIS—A judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging the University of Minnesota's policy on human fetal tissue research conflicts with state law.

Pro-Life Action Ministries executive director Brian Gibson and U graduate student Bridget Busacker filed the complaint in October in Hennepin County District Court.

They asked Judge Daniel Moreno to force the university to demonstrate that its policy, which allows for the study of aborted or miscarried tissue for transplantation research, does not violate a state statute limiting such research to that which is necessary for the health of the woman or her future offspring.

Moreno ruled last week that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the action, largely because they offered no evidence the university actually was breaking the law. He noted the university's review board requires researchers to comply with relevant state and federal laws.

"Petitioners have failed to provide any evidence that Respondent is making illegal expenditures of taxpayer money or that the University's stem cell research program is violating" the statute, he wrote.

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