District judge orders charges to be dismissed in case against Willmar man
WILLMAR -- The remaining charges against Scott Edward Wagar have been ordered dismissed for insufficient probable cause.
The rural Willmar man was charged in a Sept. 16 homecoming incident that included spraying teens with a squirt gun filled with water and fox urine.
The orders were filed by District Judge Michael J. Thompson on Monday and Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court. Each dismisses one charge, a misdemeanor theft charge and a felony for receiving stolen property charge for possessing allegedly stolen, military-issue night vision goggles used in the incident.
Doug Kluver, Wagar's attorney, said Tuesday that the orders included the right decision. "The judge exercised the wisdom that the public should expect from our judges," he said.
Kluver added that his client was happy with the decision and was looking forward to resolution of the case against his son. Thomas Albert Wagar, 24, of Minneapolis, also faces a felony charge of receiving stolen property for the goggles.
His next court appearance is an omnibus hearing on April 24. While the younger Wagar is represented by a public defender, his father's attorney expects a motion to dismiss will be filed in that case.
"We disagree with the court's decision," County Attorney Boyd Beccue said, adding that the complaints would not have been filed if his office did not believe there was probable cause for the charges. "Beyond that, I can say no more because there is still an active file on the other Mr. Wagar."
In Thompson's memo attached to the order dismissing the theft charge, which was based on Wagar allegedly seeking $100 for a cell phone found on his property, Thompson writes, "the Court lacks an honest and strong suspicion that the State can prove that the Defendant intended to exercise temporary control over a cell phone only for reward."
Thompson's order notes that Wagar knew the phone contained incriminating text messages that indicated the owner of the phone had been in contact with others about the planned trespassing and vandalism on his property and that Wagar turned over the phone to the police pursuant to their investigation.
In the memo with the order dismissing the receiving stolen property charge, Thompson notes that Wagar brought the goggles to the county law enforcement center the day after the incident, reporting they had been damaged in a struggle with one of the homecoming vandals. He said he received the goggles from his son, who had been in the military, and that he didn't know if they were taken or stolen from the government.
Thomas Wagar later turned over the goggles to a special agent for the Department of Defense. In his order, Thompson notes that "(Scott Wagar) gave them back to his son before ever being informed whether or not they were, in fact, government property." The order continues "without some evidence indicating that (Scott Wagar) "should have known" that they were stolen, the charge cannot meet the probable cause standard."
Thompson had taken the two cases under advisement on March 16, having ordered the attorneys in the case to file briefs by March 13 during a Feb. 25 evidentiary hearing.
The theft charge -- along with additional charges of fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct which have since been dismissed -- was filed against the elder Wagar after he reported to the county sheriff on Sept. 17 he had been in an altercation with another person, who was among a group of young people who had come to his property east of Willmar the night before. He had sprayed the group with a squirt gun filled with water and fox urine. They, in turn, had thrown eggs and toilet paper on his property.
The felony charge was filed against both Wagars on Jan. 30. The allegations were that both men possessed a pair of military-issued night vision goggles that Thomas Wagar had taken while serving with a Marine unit in Iraq. The goggles are valued at $2,748.