Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 4, 2002

Lester Prairie cases advance in court

Youth appears in court on charges from shooting

Benjamin Keith Berry, 16, of Lester Prairie appeared in court Feb. 20 to face three felony counts connected to a shooting incident three days prior.

Berry will appear in court today (Monday) for an admit/deny hearing, according to Amy Olson, assistant McLeod County attorney.

From there, another hearing will be conducted, and then a certification hearing will be conducted to determine if he is to be tried as an adult or a juvenile.

Berry was charged in relation to the non-fatal shooting of Ryan Fiecke, 16, at an upstairs apartment at Juniper Street North Feb. 17.

Fiecke sustained a single wound to his head and neck area, was treated and then released, according to court records.

Berry admitted to authorities that he shot the other boy with the pistol.

The complaint alleged that in the statement he specifically admitted that he pointed the gun at the other boy with the intent to scare him and then pulled the trigger.

The pistol was registered as a stolen weapon and had been taken during a burglary from the city of Lester Prairie months ago. The complaint alleged that Berry admitted he knew the weapon was stolen property.

Berry has previous felony delinquency charges, which means he cannot be in possession of a firearm.

Berry was charged with three felonies ­ felon in possession of a firearm, second-degree assault and receiving stolen property.

A motion of certification has been submitted with the court to try Berry as an adult.

If he is tried and convicted as an adult he could face up to 20 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.

Murder charges files against stabbing suspect

Stabbing suspect Sergio Sanchez-Diaz, 23, of Lester Prairie was indicted in district court Feb. 21 with three murder charges related to a fatal December stabbing of his pregnant partner, Laura Vazquez-Ruelas.

Sanchez-Diaz was indicted with one each of the following charges:

· murder in the first degree while committing domestic abuse. This carries a penatly of life imprisonment.

· murder in the second degree. This charge was added to give the jury a choice if they felt there was not enough evidence to convict Sanchez-Diaz of first degree murder, according to the attorney's office. It carries a penalty of 40 years of imprisonment.

· murder of an unborn child in the second degree. This carries a penalty of 40 years of imprisonment.

The stabbing incident appeared to erupt during a domestic dispute, at the Lester Prairie Mobile Park Dec. 29.

Lester Prairie police officers arrived at the mobile court, where they found both Vazquez-Ruelas, who was six months pregnant, and Sanchez-Diaz with multiple stab wounds.

Vazquez was deceased and had multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck, according to the police report.

Sanchez-Diaz was treated and released.

In a statement given to police, Sanchez-Diaz admitted to becoming angry with Vazquez-Ruelas because she no longer wished to be with him.

The couple had an argument, Vazquez-Ruelas threw a knife at him, and Sanchez-Diaz indicated that he took that knife and stabbed her.

He also admitted to taking a second knife and inflicting wounds upon himself.

Sanchez-Diaz is being held at the McLeod County Jail.

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