A 20-year-old woman on Tuesday admitted killing her infant son in a Williston hotel room nearly two years ago.
Hannah McMillion entered an Alford plea to a class AA felony count of murder in Northwest District Court. In an Alford plea, which has the same end result as a guilty plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges a conviction would be likely based on the evidence.
McMillin was arrested in April 2019 after police were called to the Four Points by Sheraton for a report of an infant who wasn’t breathing.
The child, McMillin’s one-month-old son, was unresponsive and pronounced dead hours later, police and prosecutors said. She and her husband, Tank McMillin, were originally both charged with a class A felony count of child abuse.
Hannah McMillin’s charge was upgraded to murder several months after her arrest.
At a hearing Tuesday, Kevin McCabe, McMillin’s public defender, told Northwest District Judge Benjamen Johnson that he had explained the process to his client.
“She understands there is enough evidence for the state to prove her guilt should she go to trial,” he said.
During the short hearing, McMillin spoke very little, only answering “Yes, your honor,” or “No, your honor,” in response to questions from Johnson. Because there is no agreement in place with prosecutors, Johnson could impose any sentence up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, told Johnson that police were called to a hotel room where McMillin was staying for a report of a 1-month-old infant found unresponsive under a pile of pillows.
Madden said McMillin squeezed the infant when the child started crying and when that didn’t stop, she held a pillow over the baby’s face.
“The defendant did not want the baby to wake her husband up,” Madden said.
Johnson ordered a pre-sentence investigation. No date for sentencing has been set.
Tank McMillin pleaded guilty to a class A felony count of child abuse in October and was sentenced to serve 3 and 1/2 years in prison.
After McMillin’s change of plea, only one homicide case from 2019 is still pending. Steven Charles Rademacher is charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorizing after police say he ran over a neighbor after a fight.
It’s been a bumpy road, but Pizza Hut in Williston is finally opening its doors to the public at its new location.
Ground was broken on the new location in August 2018, with an anticipated opening later that year. But complications with the Federal Aviation Administration due to the location put a halt to construction. The work slowly crept on, while Pizza Hut continued to serve customers in Williston with their delivery and carry-out location. On Tuesday, Jan 19, owners Russell and DeLonnes Klug were joined by the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce for Pizza Hut’s official ribbon cutting.
“It’s been a long time, it’s been a long road, a tough road; but to me it’s all about remembering that the day starts new,” Klug said. “That’s all over, we’re done with it and we’re moving forward and doing our part to serve the people of Williston. They’ve been waiting a long time.”
Klug said he and his staff are still feeling nervous about opening up, as there are still a few hiccups to work out, but there is also an air of excitement to finally be in the new facility, and serving up Pizza Hut’s signature specialties in a new way. Gone is the buffet that many remember from the old days of Pizza Hut, as this new concept is focused more on delivery, rather than dine-in.
The new restaurant still has a dine-in option, but it Klug said it will not be as full-service as the former establishment. Instead, Klug said, Pizza Hut is moving towards a more self-service based model, with customers placing orders at the counter, rather than having wait staff take the order at their table. The new facility also features a drive-through, making it easier for customers to get their pizza on the go. Klug said they are still awaiting their state alcohol license, but that once approved customers will be able to enjoy beer with their pie.
Klug said the opening of the restaurant was a dream come true, one that began as a 17-year-old working his first job at a local pizza joint. Thirty-some years later, and Klug now owns two restaurants, in Dickinson and Williston. The delivery location on Second Avenue will close, Klug added, with all staff transitioning to the new restaurant.
Pizza Hut will be open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight.
A mask order put in place in Williston in November is still active, Williston Mayor Howard Klug said.
The order was approved Nov. 9 by the Williston City Commission. It keeps the mask mandate in place as long as there is an emergency order active at the state level.
The order will remain in effect until the current state of emergency ends. Currently, Executive Order 2020-03 which declared a State of Emergency for North Dakota is still active; thus, the citywide Mask Order remains until further action from the City Commission.
“While our COVID-19 numbers for Williams County remain under 100, until more vaccines are distributed, it is important that we continue to keep what has worked in place,” Klug said.
The order requires face covering when people are unable to maintain social distance of six feet, whether indoors or outdoors.
These measures are being mandated with the strongest possible recommendation; however, there is no penalty for non-compliance with the order.
This order does not prohibit law enforcement or local officials from enforcing trespassing laws or other applicable laws in removing violators at the request of businesses or property owners.
The entire COVID-19 Emergency Municipal Declaration, along with printable Mask Order sign for your business, please visit bit.ly/WillistonCOVID-19.
In addition, the suspension on the use of liquor licenses for the purposes of special events remains in place until further notice.
The City of Williston’s internal COVID-19 Tiered Response Guidelines also remain in effect at the High Level.
Measures taken at the High level include:
Office vestibules and reception areas remain open to the public, but masks are required for all visitors and shall be provided at entry points. Staff meetings are by appointment only.
Until further notice, all public meetings will be offered virtually.
Hand sanitizer will be made available in all office vestibules, reception areas, and conference rooms for staff and public use.
Citizens are encouraged to continue to minimize spread through appropriate social distancing, respecting posted guidelines for businesses, and taking advantage of the opportunity to be tested.
Currently, the Upper Missouri District Health Unit, in conjunction with Williston State College, continues to offer testing on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Art Wood building at WSC.
The City of Williston, in conjunction with Williams County/Williston Emergency Management, will also offer future BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen screenings.
COVID-19 testing events are open to the entire community.
Testing is free and takes only minutes, with walk up and drive thru options available. Pre-register for testing at testreg.nd.gov to minimize waiting time and expedite testing. Pre-registration is not required if an individual has previously been tested.
North Dakota’s 67th Legislative Assembly opened earlier this month, and Williston’s District 1 representatives are sharing with the Williston Herald and their constituents how the session’s opening has been going.
Sen. Brad Bekkedahl and Reps. David Richter and Patrick Hatlestad spoke with the Herald regarding their first week’s in session.
“This 67th Legislative Session began very differently for me, as the day before it started I tested positive for the Coronavirus,” Bekkedahl told the Williston Herald. “Thus, I participated in all the first week speeches, floor sessions, and committee hearings remotely while in isolation. This will be the way of the future, and thankfully our Legislative Council staff and IT department have prepared well for us to function in this pandemic environment.”
Bekkedahl added that the added precautions will allow residents to be more involved in their government.
“The silver lining is that it should also improve the ability for all of you to watch and participate in your Legislature,” he said. “Sitting on the Senate Appropriations committee, we’ve held agency budget hearings, and the focus will be be on a balanced budget in a difficult environment due to the virus impacts on state revenues. Whether we have ‘too much’ money or ‘too little’ money, I’ve always said we need to set our priorities and fund as many as possible, keeping the focus on improving North Dakota and all its citizens.”
Richter also shared the importance of creating a balanced budget.
“The budget has become the issue,” he said. “We need to put together a sustainable document which meets the needs and services that people demand of government. Each year the ‘cost to continue’ rises, but revenues not necessarily.”
Richter and Hatlestad said that North Dakotans must remain aware of the “doom and gloom attitudes” that often prevail in times of revenue shortfall. Richter said the state’s motto must be “Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”
“Making a difference in the life of North Dakota people,” Hatlestad said. “We need to get better, more innovative and creative in meeting needs, by advancing significant legislation, working with others to make good things better, turning good policy into that which will make a difference.”
There have not been many bills that have had hearings and moved to the floor for vote, Richter said. He added that most of the committee work has been presentations of agency reports and hearings on pre-filed bills out of interim committees and agencies, and added that much of the chamber activity has been preparing and revising bill drafts.
A new site will let residents of Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams counties sign up for an alert when doses of COVID-19 vaccine are available to them.
The site lets people indicate what priority group they fall into. If they don’t belong to any high-risk or priority vaccination group, they can also sign up to be notified when the vaccine is available to the general public.
The five-question survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UMDHUVaccineNotification
A release announcing the site noted that completing the form does not guarantee a vaccine dose. Instead, people who sign up will get a message with instructions on setting up an appointment when they are eligible.
For more information about North Dakota’s COVID-19 Priority Groups, please visit https://www.health.nd.gov/covid-19-vaccine-priority-groups
As of Jan. 10, the Williston State College Testing Center has moved from the Adult Learning Center in the Crighton building on WSC’s campus to TrainND Northwest located at 415 22nd Avenue NE.
The WSC Testing Center serves as a proctor allowing testers to take a wide variety of national exams such as real estate exams, NCCCO computer-based testing and TSA screening here in Williston.
Although WSC administers these exams, testers will still need to register with PSI at 1-800-733-9267 or www.psionline.com/test-takers/. Once registration has been completed, testers will go to TrainND Northwest to complete their scheduled exams.