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Iron Range teen sentenced for shooting mother

Charlize Bjorhus will avoid an adult prison term if she remains compliant with probation until August 2026.

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DULUTH — An Iron Range girl has been sentenced to nine months in a juvenile detention facility and placed on probation until her 21st birthday for shooting her mother in retaliation for taking away her methamphetamine.

Charlize Rae Bjorhus, 16, received the disposition from 6th Judicial District Judge Michelle Anderson at a hearing last week in Hibbing. Bjorhus pleaded guilty in March to a count of attempted intentional second-degree murder.

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.

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

Under the terms of a plea agreement with the St. Louis County Attorney's Office, Bjorhus was designated as an "extended jurisdiction juvenile" — receiving both a juvenile sentence and a stayed adult prison term.

Anderson ordered the teen to complete the six-to-nine-month Female Offender Program at the Arrowhead Juvenile Center in Duluth. Upon the completion of that program and her release from custody, Bjorhus will be required to attend inpatient chemical dependency treatment and be subject to intensive supervised probation.

The juvenile sentence expires in August 2026, when Bjorhus turns 21. But if she fails to adhere to conditions of probation, she will be subject to 12 ¾ years in prison — the guideline sentence for an adult convicted of attempted murder.

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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