ST. CLOUD -- There have been several big trials heard in the Stearns County Courthouse over the years.

Stearns History Museum Archivist Steve Penick says one of the bigger cases actually goes back to the year 1900 prior to the current courthouse being built. It was the Cold Spring Dam case, also known as Kray versus Muggli.

Kray ran a pleasure boat cruise from Cold Spring.  He's in favor of water levels that are higher.  The other side is people lost land, and some lost a chunk of land.  So it was a big deal.

The dam in Cold Spring was actually built in the late 1850s, so it had been operational for years by the time the case went to trial. It made it all the way to the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of Kray and the city of Cold Spring allowing the dam to stay, citing that the Sauk River waters couldn't be restored to its original channel after so many years.

Here's a picture of the Lady of the Lake steamboat from 1897.

Stearns History Museum
Stearns History Museum
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Stearns History Museum
Stearns History Museum

One of the more high-profile murder cases ever heard in the 100-year-old Stearns County Courthouse happened back in 1967. Penick says it was the Hoskins murder trial.

There was a fire near Kimball.  The husband and father was charged with the murder of his wife and four children.  It was a big high profile case.

According to David Hoskins, on August 18th, 1967, he and his wife were watching a late night movie on TV when they heard a car door slam outside. David went outside to investigate and was grabbed by 4-5 large men who told him they wanted to play soldier. They shot David twice, once in the abdomen and once in the chest and shot his wife on the couch in the living room.

The next day Hoskins admitted to shooting his wife, turning the gun on himself in an attempt to blame the incident on “intruders”, and setting fire to their Pearl Lake home where his wife and four children died.

He later changed his story saying he didn't intend for his children to die in the fire.

Hoskins was convicted of second degree murder in the deaths of his wife and four children and sentenced to 40 years in Stillwater State Prison.

Penick also touches on the court cases heard during the Prohibition era as well as a very big powerline case that happened in the late 1970s into the early 1980s.  Listen to the full conversation below.

Once a month Penick is on the News @ Noon Show on WJON for a segment called "A Century in St. Cloud" where we talk about the 100th anniversary of the Stearns County Courthouse.

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