Boundary Waters chase suspect’s trial delayed
TWO HARBORS — The trial of Barney Lakner, the man accused of leading conservation officers on a high-speed snowmobile chase through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness last year, was put on hold Thursday, as it remained unclear whether his defense attorney would be able to continue.
Lakner’s attorney, Chris Stocke, suffered a seizure in a Two Harbors courtroom on Wednesday, indefinitely postponing the trial late in its first day.
Judge Michael Cuzzo told jurors to take the day off Thursday and said that he and the attorneys would continue to assess whether or not the trial could continue. A mistrial could be declared, requiring the proceedings to start over with a new jury at a later date.
Stocke was cross examining the case’s first witness when he suffered the seizure while seated at the defense table at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. After several minutes of nervously pacing in the hallway, Lakner and his wife were informed that Stocke was awake and alert.
Lakner, 45, is charged with a felony count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and six misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 11, 2014, incident.
Authorities said Lakner and friend Edward Zupancich led officers on a chase at speeds in excess of 80 mph through dangerous areas of ice on Basswood Lake in the popular wilderness area, where snowmobiles are banned. Stocke conceded in an opening statement Wednesday that Lakner was illegally snowmobiling, but he maintained that the defendant did not flee officers. Lakner was already well known in the Boundary Waters as the ringleader of a group of Ely-area residents that terrorized campers on the same lake in 2007, a crime for which he served three years in prison.
Lakner remains free on $20,000 bail.