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New evidence in alleged Lake Hattie homicide

New evidence was released at an omnibus hearing Friday about an alleged homicide that took place in Hubbard County May 31.

In the case of the State of Minnesota v. Fredrick William Bachman, 26, an autopsy report released Friday indicated an “undetermined” cause of death for the victim, James Schwartzbauer.

Schwartzbauer, 57, was found deceased in his burned out Lake Hattie Township home May 31.

The criminal complaint indicated he was the victim of a homicide. Shotgun shells and pellets were found near his body. But the coroner found no pellets in Schwartzbauer’s skull that would cause death and only two BBs found in the tissue of his remains, again not enough to cause his death.

The cause of the fire that destroyed his home is also undetermined.

Bachman, who was Schwartzbauer’s roommate of four years, was charged when investigators concluded he was acting suspiciously at the scene of the fire May 31.

And a BCA agent testified he couldn’t say if the pellets found sprayed randomly due to the fire. A statement from a neighbor across the lake indicated he could hear shots going off during the fire, likely shells exploding in the heat.

Defense attorney Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks questioned bullet or firearm projectile wounds and carbon monoxide levels in Schwartzbauer’s body that authorities allege were low because Schwartzbauer was deceased before the fire started. Those levels were an estimate based on previous experience, the BCA agent testified.

A Spreigl motion will be filed by Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne. Spreigl motions argue a rule of evidence that would admit prior bad acts as evidence in a criminal trial.

Under the evidentiary rules, Bachman’s criminal history can only be admissible if it is relevant and necessary to prove the Second Degree Murder case he is currently charged with.

Defense attorneys normally fight Spreigl motions under the “slippery slope theory.” That tendency to cause another crime often works against the defendant.

Judge Paul Rasmussen will be asked to determine whether “the probative value” of Bachman’s criminal history outweighs the prejudice he could suffer if the evidence is introduced at trial.

He was previously convicted of a domestic assault involving strangulation.

Dearstyne’s motion is due Aug. 30. Eichhorn-Hocks must respond by Sept. 11. And Dearstyne can file one last response brief by Sept. 20.

Eichhorn-Hicks said he’d like the issue of bail revisited. Currently Bachman is being held on $600,000 unconditional bail and $1 million with numerous conditions attached.

Eichhorn-Hicks said he’d like his client released from jail and returned to his family in the Twin Cities area.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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