Shooting suspects appear in court
Four of the five people accused in last week's fatal shooting of a Superior man during a robbery attempt have made their initial appearances in Douglas County Court.
Four of the five people accused in last week’s fatal shooting of a Superior man during a robbery attempt have made their initial appearances in Douglas County Court.
Teah Joan Phillips, 17, of Superior, and Duluth residents Kane Michael Robinson, 20, and Dallas Eugene Robinson, 18, made their appearances Friday. Kyham L. Dunn, 20, of Duluth appeared in court Monday.
Each is charged with a single count of felony murder-party to a crime for the death of Garth Velin. Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy ordered high cash bail for the four - $100,000 cash bail for Kane Robinson and Dunn, $75,000 cash bail for Dallas Robinson and $50,000 cash bail for Phillips, a Superior High School junior.
They were ordered to have no contact with other co-defendants and not use or possess dangerous weapons, controlled substances or drug paraphernalia. A joint preliminary hearing for Phillips and the two Robinsons was set for Wednesday. Dunn waived his time limits and has a hearing set for Nov. 3.
Blank requested the stiff cash bail amounts.
“I think as you can tell with all the emotions and all the talk, old fashioned and social media, there’s a lot of intensity surrounding the whole scenario,” he said Friday. “I think it’s in their best interest to be arguably safe in the jail rather than on the streets.”
It will also provide time for everyone to catch their breath and for those charged to get matched up with attorneys.
Alleged shooter Chance W. Andrews, 17, of Superior remains in custody in Minnesota. He is challenging extradition to Douglas County. The District Attorney’s Office is pursuing a governor’s warrant to extradite him. That process could take up to a month.
The five are accused of trying to rob Velin, 20, at his residence in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood. Andrews allegedly pulled a gun on Velin during a robbery attempt but Velin grabbed the gun and it went off, according to the criminal complaints.
Velin was pronounced dead at the scene from a single gunshot wound. Blank, who knows Velin’s family, called the incident a horrible tragedy. Families and friends of both the victim and those accused filed into the courtroom Friday, leaving standing room only. One woman sobbed quietly during the proceedings.
“There’s going to be a lot of emotion for a long time,” Blank said.
The District Attorney noted the quick response from law enforcement. The five suspects were in custody within 24 hours of the murder. There are still loose ends to figure out, Blank said, and the gun has not been found.
“We may not have the full story from anybody yet,” Blank said.
According to the criminal complaint: Phillips told police she drove to Duluth to pick up the four males Tuesday night. They drove back to Superior and parked behind the Subway shop on 38th Avenue East. Andrews told Phillips they were “going to get some money.” She knocked on the door of 3706 E. First St. to verify that Velin was home, telling him she was looking for a lost dog. She returned to the car, verifying that it was Velin from a Facebook photo they pulled up. She stayed in the car with Kane Robinson while the other three walked to Velin’s home. After a short time they came back to the car and jumped in, saying that “it went bad.” Andrews was holding a pistol, according to Phillips. Andrews told her he pulled a gun on Velin, but Velin grabbed the gun and it accidentally went off. Phillips then drove the four males back to Duluth. Andrews told everyone in the car “what happened does not leave this car” or he would kill them.
Drugs, specifically marijuana, may have played a factor in the incident, according to Blank and Deputy Chief Nick Alexander with the Superior Police Department. Alexander confirmed evidence of some illegal drug activity at Velin’s residence.
“However, the focus of our investigation remains on the murder investigation, which was the result of a robbery plan for money,” Alexander said.
The death of any citizen is tragic, he said, regardless of their age. This incident will have an impact on the futures and lives of all the young people involved and their families.
Phillips’ attorney, James Babbitt, told the court that the 17-year-old has been active in volleyball at school and is a volunteer volleyball coach for the Superior-Douglas County YMCA. She hopes to become a diesel mechanic and is in the process of taking classes at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. If convicted, she and her co-defendants face a maximum penalty of up to 35 years imprisonment.
“This is hitting very close to home for a lot of people because as we know there’s way too many of our young people involved with drugs,” Blank said. “If there’s ever a public discussion on legalizing marijuana and/or whether there’s any truth to the gateway of marijuana to other, more serious situations, this is it, live and in color.”