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Judge to rule on probable cause for charges against Scott Wagar

WILLMAR -- The attorneys in the Scott Edward Wagar case will file briefs, to be reviewed by Judge Michael J. Thompson, to determine if there is probable cause for the charges filed in Kandiyohi County District Court against the rural Willmar man.

Wagar faces a misdemeanor theft charge for a Sept. 16 homecoming incident that included spraying teens with a squirt gun filled with water and fox urine. He also faces a felony charge of receiving stolen property for allegedly possessing stolen, military-issue night vision goggles used in the incident. Wagar's son, Thomas Albert Wagar, 24, of Minneapolis, also faces the same felony charge. His next court appearance is March 2.

After the brief evidentiary hearing and a meeting in Judge Thompson's chambers with assistant county attorney John Kallestad, Doug Kluver, Wagar's attorney, explained that the matter would go to the judge to make the probable cause determination on both of the charges.

During the hearing, Kluver had attempted to call as witnesses a Willmar man and his son. The two are alleged to be the owners of a cell phone found by Wagar on his property after the incident. The theft charge against Wagar is based on the allegation that he demanded $100 from the owners for the return of the phone.

Kallestad presented case law to Thompson that Kallestad said protects the man and the teen as "victims" and that they, therefore, are not required to testify in a preliminary hearing.

Ownership of the phone is a factor in the case and one of the elements that must be proven, Kluver said after the hearing. "The state doesn't seem to know or care who owns the cell phone," he said.

Kluver has until March 6 to file briefs in the case, and the state has until March 13. Thompson will then rule, either throwing out the charges or setting a trial date, Kluver said.

After the hearing, Wagar said that he has refused to accept the county attorney's plea offer in the cases, made Tuesday. The offer included dismissal of the misdemeanor charge if he pleaded guilty to an amended charge of receiving stolen property for the goggles.

"I wasn't going to plead guilty to something I didn't do," he said.

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 near his property east of Willmar the night before. He had sprayed the group with a super-soaker squirt gun filled with water and fox urine.

In a Dec. 17 interview with the Tribune, Wagar said he and his son later surveyed what was left behind after the incident. They found 55 intact rolls of toilet paper, four and one-half dozen eggs, a bag of plastic forks and -- most alarming to them -- two screwdrivers and broken drumsticks with sharp ends.

They also found the cell phone. Wagar says he tracked down the owner and talked with his father. Wagar said he was asking for $100 in damages to his place and the neighboring fields, which had hundreds of dollars worth of crop loss because the group trampled a portion of a soybean field. He later turned the phone over to law enforcement.

The felony charge was filed against both Wagars on Jan. 30. The allegations are 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, valued at $2,748, were turned over to a Defense Department investigator in January.