MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota state senator and former broadcast meteorologist told police that she broke into her stepmother's home because her stepmother refused to give her items of sentimental value from her late father, including his ashes, according to burglary charges filed Tuesday.

Democratic state Sen. Nicole Mitchell, 49, of Woodbury, was arrested early Monday at the home in the northwestern Minnesota city of Detroit Lakes. The arresting officer wrote in the complaint that he heard Mitchell tell her stepmother "something to the effect of, ’I was just trying to get a couple of my dad's things because you wouldn't talk to me anymore.'"

The complaint, filed in Becker County District Court in Detroit Lakes, charges Mitchell with one count of first-degree burglary, a felony. Judge Gretchen Thilmony allowed Mitchell to go free on the conditions that she not contact her stepmother and that she complies with a harassment restraining order.

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Although state Senate Republicans called on Mitchell to resign, she's expected to return to her duties. Mitchell was arrested while the Senate is on its Passover break. It comes at an awkward time for Senate Democrats, who hold a one-seat majority with just under four weeks left in the legislative session. Her absence would make it difficult to pass any legislation that lacks bipartisan support.

Mitchell's attorney, Bruce Ringstrom Sr., said in an interview after her first appearance that the charges are “flabbergasting to her” and that the dispute arose out of a “fractured relationship” between the state senator and her stepmother that has been aggravated by age-related issues.

“It's not exactly the wicked stepmother from Cinderella,” Ringstrom said.

Ringstrom declined to comment in detail on her immediate political future, saying he’s sure there will be “internal discussions” within the Senate Democratic caucus, but that she’s entitled to a presumption of innocence. He said he told her to suppress her instincts “as a media person, a weather person and politician,” and that she agreed “to hold her tongue and say nothing.”

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Mitchell wore an orange jumpsuit and looked tense but said little during her brief court appearance, which was conducted via Zoom from the county jail. She did not enter a plea.

Ringstrom said afterward that Mitchell had consulted with attorneys about seeking guardianship over her stepmother, but that she was afraid that would only aggravate the breakdown of their relationship.

Mitchell’s father, Rod Mitchell, died in March 2023 at age 72, according to an obituary posted by a Detroit Lakes funeral home. He had been married to Mitchell’s stepmother for 40 years, it said.

“I know I did something bad,” the criminal complaint quoted Mitchell as saying after she was told of her right to remain silent.

Mitchell was dressed all in black and wearing a black hat when she was arrested, the complaint said. The officer said he discovered a flashlight near her that was covered with a black sock, apparently modified to control the amount of light coming from it.

Mitchell told the officer she was after pictures, a flannel shirt, ashes and other items, but that her stepmother had cut all contact with her, the complaint said. It was the ashes that specifically that got her “to this stage,” it said.

The lawmaker acknowledged that she entered the house through a basement window that had been propped open with a black backpack, the complaint said. Officers found her Minnesota Senate ID inside it, along with her driver's license, two laptops, a cellphone and Tupperware containers, the complaint said. She indicated that she got caught soon after entering.

“Clearly I'm not good at this,” it quoted her as saying.

The stepmother said in an interview that she's afraid of her stepdaughter. She also said that although most of her husband's ashes were buried, she sent Mitchell a miniature container with some of them. Ringstrom, however, said that account is “not totally accurate.”

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy, of St. Paul, called the allegations “upsetting” but indicated that Mitchell will be allowed to return to her duties.

“The behavior alleged is far outside the character she has established in the Senate and in her distinguished career in the military,” Murphy said in a statement. "We believe in due process, and Senator Mitchell has the right to a full defense of her case in court.”

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, of East Grand Forks, said in a statement that he understands Mitchell's difficult family situation, but that she should step down. The complaint lays out a disturbing case of a person who made extensive preparations to burglarize a family member’s home, he said.

"This behavior is unbecoming of a member of the Legislature and she needs to resign from the Senate immediately,” Johnson said.

Mitchell worked as a meteorologist with the U.S. military and for KSTP-TV and Minnesota Public Radio before she was elected to the state Senate in 2022 from a suburban St. Paul district. She still serves as lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, commanding a weather unit, her official profile says. She worked for The Weather Channel earlier in her career, her profile says.

Mitchell’s next court appearance is set for June 10, but her attorney said it will likely be delayed to give him time to study the evidence.

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