Bearcat Hollow stalking trial begins

The trial of a Rochester woman facing stalking charges in connection with a pursuit last year that started near Bearcat Hollow animal park in Racine and ended in Iowa was due to begin today in Mower District Court.

Mary Ruth Hartman, 41, has pleaded not guilty to the gross misdemeanor charge of stalking and lesser charges of reckless and careless driving and speeding, stemming from the alleged incident in February 2002.

Authorities say there was a chase in which Hartman followed a truck that left the animal park, passing through Spring Valley and into Iowa.

Hartman's trial could last most of the week. A district judge was to hear attorney arguments this morning on some pre-trial issues. Jury selection was expected to begin this afternoon.

Hartman's daughter was attacked by a tiger at the animal farm in July 2001. A civil lawsuit stemming from that incident remains open in Olmsted District Court.

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