Higher bail requested for robbery suspect
Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne requested a higher bail amount for the suspect in the Feb. 26 robbery of an Akeley bank, maintaining the man has a more troubled past than he revealed in court last week.
Dearstyne told District Judge Robert Tiffany the $75,000 unconditional bail or $25,000 conditional amount were insufficient to ensure public safety if Edward Joseph Lowen were to post them.
Lowen, 53, was arrested last week on three felony charges in connection with the robbery of First National Bank of Walker's Akeley branch. He was arraigned Friday on two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.
Lowen made his second court appearance Monday with defense attorney Joe Majors of Park Rapids.
"I'm not prepared to file a certificate of representation," Majors told the judge. He said he had not decided whether he would take the case.
Lowen told Tiffany he'd been denied a court-appointed attorney due to his financial status.
Dearstyne, in requesting the higher bond amount, pointed to Lowen's statements in court last week that he'd never had a warrant issued for his arrest.
Dearstyne said a more detailed search of Lowen's past showed a 1985 contempt citation and warrant for an unspecified charge and an "order for protection (issued in late 2002) that went to a bench warrant" in 2003.
Lowen, who listed a Roseville address at the time of the 2002-03 charges, was facing five counts of violating the protection order. The case was resolved in June 2003 in Ramsey County.
He was sentenced in August of that year on one of the counts he pled guilty to; the remaining charges were dismissed. The file indicates a warrant was issued April 30, 2003 out of Ramsey County.
His fine in the matter was referred for collection in 2008.
Dearstyne made reference in court to a case in Hubbard County in 2002.
"There was a disturbance call here where he held off law enforcement officers for hours," he told Judge Tiffany, in requesting the higher bail.
Dearstyne asked that Lowen have no contact with his ex-spouse or her family members. He said he and the Sheriff's Office have had "some fears and concerns" relayed from those family members about their safety.
"There is nothing here that says the $25,000 should be changed," Majors objected, questioning whether any of the charges resulted in convictions.
"They did," Dearstyne replied.
But no charges resulted in the Hubbard County case that can be found on the public record.
"He went to the hospital" on a mental health stay, Dearstyne said of the Hubbard County incident, indicating it was resolved without charges.
The Enterprise obtained a copy of the Oct. 26, 2002 incident report, in which Lowen allegedly was despondent and drinking. Friends and relatives feared he was suicidal and called authorities.
Sheriff Frank Homer, then a sergeant in the department, responded to the call with other officers and spoke at length to Lowen about getting help.
According to the report, a relative indicated, "he is depressed as he has felony theft charges ($12,000) pending in Ramsey County. He also was fired from work and there has been talk of divorce."
He was eventually taken to St. Joseph's Area Health Services for emergency treatment. The protection order was filed shortly after this incident, records show.
Lowen did admit in court last week to being involved in a contentious divorce proceeding, and told Tiffany Monday he pays child support, but otherwise lives alone.
Tiffany ordered the probation department to perform a bail study to determine whether bond should be raised, and told the attorneys they have 48 hours to submit briefs on the matter.
The complaint states Lowen used an air pistol to rob the bank of $2,500. The money has not been recovered. Authorities found a "glob of burnt plastic in the driveway" of Lowen's home on Becker Line Road they believe are the remnants of the gun.
They also found receipts for recently purchased money orders in Lowen's home. He told the court he was an out-of-work truck driver.
Court records indicate he has been involved in numerous collection actions, including one with the Hubbard County Auditor, in the past several years. One collection action was filed in civil court in Ramsey County in which a judgment for $38,472.40 was entered against Lowen in 2003. That may have been the theft charge referred to in the Hubbard County incident, but the matter was resolved civilly. No criminal charges were filed.
As of Monday, he remained incarcerated. An omnibus hearing has been set for March 29. Dearstyne has been assembling evidence to send to the U.S. Attorney's office in Minneapolis, which may prosecute the case in federal court.