New Richmond homicide suspect's bond remains cash-only
A St. Croix County judge wasn't swayed by efforts to modify bond conditions for a New Richmond man accused of killing his son.
Judge Michael Waterman rejected a request Friday to raise a portion of Kayle A. Fleischauer's $500,000 bail by allowing his mother to offer her Minnesota home in lieu of cash. Defense attorney Earl Gray had proposed the offer — in addition to up to $150,000 in cash raised by other family members — to bond Fleischauer out of St. Croix County jail, where he is being held on a first-degree intentional homicide charge in the April 14 shooting death of his son, Chase Fleischauer.
But St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes said state law expressly limits such bond alternatives to property owned in Wisconsin. St. Croix County Corporation Counsel Attorney Scott Cox said that even if that were allowable, it would put the county in the awkward position of owning the woman's house if Fleischauer didn't re-appear for court. That scenario, Cox noted, would also mean having to evict the woman from her home.
The in-state limitation on property was enough to convince Waterman, who later said he wouldn't deviate from the bond amount; Nieskes sought to hold Fleischauer without bond while Gray proposed $150,000 cash.
"The seriousness of the offense is the driving factor," Waterman said in denying changes to restrict or lessen the amount.
A conviction would bring an automatic life sentence, he noted, saying such a scenario "gives (Fleischauer) incentive" to flee.
The hearing also saw arguments likely to resurface at Fleischauer's preliminary hearing on May 1.
Gray signaled opposition to both charges Fleischauer faces, the second of which alleges he was a felon in possession of a firearm. Gray said his client had a 1994 Minnesota felony case that was reduced to a misdemeanor in 1999 after he successfully completed his probation.
The attorney also reiterated doubts first raised at Fleischauer's initial appearance that centered around the homicide charge. Gray said a closer reading of the criminal complaint doesn't make a strong case for the intentional homicide allegation.
"It's a stretch to charge this man with intentional homicide," he said.
Nieskes replied that the approximately 18-inch distance the medical examiner concluded the gun was from the deceased's head established it as a homicide — not a suicide, as Gray speculated could be among the reasons for the 19-year-old's death.
Gray said he sought to have an independent doctor examine Chase Fleischauer's body, but the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office, which still had possession of the body as of Friday, wouldn't allow a private examination while it was in their custody. That represents a denial of his client's right to defend himself, Gray said.
He asked Waterman to order the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office to allow the examination. The judge said he doubted he possessed the authority to make that out-of-state order and told attorneys on both sides of the case to continue communicating, with a note of sensitivity so the family could move forward with burial arrangements.