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Judge sets bail at $500,000 in Prechel case

OLIVIA - District Judge Randall Slieter set unconditional bail at $500,000 and conditional bail at $200,000 for Nicolle Marie Mercedes Prechel, 31, of Willmar, during her first court appearance in Olivia on Wednesday.

Prechel entered no plea to two felony charges of criminal vehicular homicide and two gross misdemeanor counts of the same charge; two counts of third degree, driving while impaired; and one charge of driving after suspension.

Prechel is accused of backing her van over a tent holding Whyatt James Sander, age 3 1/2 months of Redwood Falls, and his mother, Sheena Hinshaw, 21, also of Redwood Falls, while they camped together at Beaver Falls Park in Renville County on Sunday. Sander was pronounced deceased at the Redwood Falls Hospital. The victim's father and a cousin to Prechel, Jacob Sander, 27, and Prechel are cousins.

Nearly 20 family members and friends of the victims and defendant attended Thursday's hearing. Whyatt Sander's parents did not attend the hearing. Sander's mother, Monica Bliss Ockwig, said the parents were "devastated' by the loss of their child.

Ockwig said after the court proceeding that the family holds no animosity towards Prehcel. She also read a prepared statement from the family stating that they are hopeful "justice will prevail."

In the courtroom , Renville County Assistant Attorney Glen Jacobsen called Prechel an "extreme flight risk'' when asking for the high bail amount. He told the judge that Prechel operates her own modeling service and has numerous web sites listing her business in a variety of locations, including Los Angeles, California and Los Vega, Nev., as well as Florida and Minnesota.

He told the judge that a bail bondsman told him he once had to intervene to prevent Prechel from leaving the state when facing charges in Kandiyohi County for fifth degree, controlled substance possession.