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Iron Range teen pleads guilty to shooting mother

The 16-year-old girl will receive both adult and juvenile sentences under the terms of a plea agreement.

A courtroom gavel

DULUTH โ€” An Iron Range teen has admitted to shooting her mother with an intent to kill in retaliation for taking away her methamphetamine.

Charlize Rae Bjorhus, 16, pleaded guilty to a count of attempted intentional second-degree murder at a juvenile court hearing in Hibbing last week, entering into an agreement that calls for both a juvenile sentence and a stayed adult prison term.

Authorities said Bjorhus shot her mother, Stephanie Lynn Straw, in the back at their home in Morcom Township, about 18 miles southwest of Cook, on Jan. 16.

Straw told police that she was lying in bed when she heard a "pop" sound, followed by a louder "bang" noise and an immediate feeling "like her back exploded," according to a juvenile delinquency petition. Realizing she had been shot, Straw reported that she got up and confronted Bjorhus, who continued to point a handgun at her.

Charlize Bjorhus, 16, is being charged for attempted second-degree murder.

The victim said she had previously refused her daughter's request that she return the meth she had seized, but did so at that point to avoid being shot again. Straw then called her boyfriend, who came to the residence to drive her to the hospital while calling 911.

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While responding to the scene, St. Louis County sheriff's deputies found Bjorhus in a car stuck in the ditch. She was taken into custody and admitted to shooting her mother, the petition states.

Straw was initially taken to the Cook Hospital and then transported to a Duluth facility, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Leah Stauber had previously filed a motion to have Bjorhus certified to stand trial as an adult. But she dropped that request in favor in the plea agreement that designates the teen as an "extended jurisdiction juvenile."

That means Bjorhus will receive a juvenile sentence, which must include rehabilitative treatment while in detention and follow-up monitoring and care after release, and may extend until her 21st birthday. She will also receive an adult prison term that will remain stayed unless she violates conditions of her juvenile sentence.

The attempted murder charge carries a presumptive 12 ยพ years in prison for an adult with no criminal history. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the state will abide by recommendations of a background investigation to be conducted by a probation officer in the coming weeks.

Judge Michelle Anderson ordered Bjorhus to remain at the Arrowhead Juvenile Center in Duluth ahead of the disposition hearing, or sentencing, on May 9.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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