Mesabi Daily News
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 06th, 2005 05:11:40 PM
VIRGINIA — The attorney for Fred Paul Precht argued Monday against
admitting certain statements his client gave to conservation officers on
alleged trapping violations.
Precht, 49, of Soudan is charged with four counts of being over the
limit on pine martens or fishers and three counts of possession of
prohibited wild animals stemming from a case last December near
Defense attorney Bruce Williams argued the statements should be
suppressed because his rights were not read to him at the correct time
and he was not free to go. He also feels the prosecution is trying to
make an example out of Precht.
Upon questioning from Assistant County Attorney Karl Sundquist, DNR
Conservation Officer Kipp Duncan testified that he had told Precht he
was free to leave. He also said Precht was read his miranda warning, but
it was not until about 10 hours after the initial contact.
Judge Gary Pagliaccetti took the case under advisement and will make
a ruling after the defense and prosecution briefs are completed. The
defense brief is due April 18, while the state’s is due April 25.
According to the criminal complaint, Precht was in possession of 36
pine marten, 12 mink, seven otter, and 13 fisher. A further search of
the kitchen refrigerator/freezer of the Precht house resulted in the
following animals seized: one otter, two muskrat, and five pine marten.
The limits for the wild animals, according to the 2004 Minnesota
Hunting and Trapping Regulations, are as follows:
• Pine marten and fisher, 5 combined.
• Otter, 4.
• Mink and muskrat, no limit.
Williams contended that the statement should be suppressed because it
came before Precht was read his rights. That means anything that flowed
from the statement, including the search of the garage, should not be
The first contact with Precht was around 1 p.m. and his rights were
read to him at about 11 p.m.
The confiscation of Precht’s cell phone for “officer safety’’ also
came before his rights were read, Williams said. Doing that prevented
Precht from calling for legal counsel if he so desired, he added.
Duncan testified, however, that the phone could have been used to
have someone remove the animals from the garage or just have someone
waiting in Soudan for the officers.
Williams found it ironic that the phone was taken, but not Precht’s
.22-caliber rifle he store in his truck for trapping trips.
Regarding being free to leave, Duncan testified officers told Precht
he could leave and he was never put in a the officers’ vehicle or in