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Forum Communications, Published August 22 2012

Man pleads guilty in cross burning in Beltrami County

BEMIDJI, Minn. – One of the men accused of placing a burning cross in a Beltrami County resident’s yard has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.

Derek Daniel Barnes, 20, pleaded guilty before Beltrami County District Judge Paul Benshoof to felony stalking with an aggravated violation of committing the crime because of bias.

Sentencing has been set for Oct. 10. Barnes, who remains in Beltrami County Jail, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Ryan Fairbanks Andree, 19, is charged with felony aiding and abetting stalking/harassment. He will next appear in court Sept. He is out of jail on bail.

According to the criminal complaints, Barnes constructed an 8-foot-tall cross that he and Andree drove it to the residence. Barnes propped the cross against a tree in the yard, lit it and he and Andree fled the scene.

The home was occupied by a woman who ran out and doused the flames using a garden hose. The woman is white with two adult daughters who are mixed-race with a black father.

The family has since moved from the home.