Bert Mann made an appearance for his preliminary hearing on Monday in Circuit Court, in Lovell, before Judge Thomas Harrington.
Mann’s attorney Nick Beduhn asked that the preliminary hearing be postponed pending a report from the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston, where Mann was held for evaluation for a short time after he was arrested and charged with one count of attempted manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon in an incident that took place earlier this year. This is a second time that Beduhn has asked for his client’s preliminary hearing to be postponed.
“Our plan for the court, if the court is willing to go along with this, is to go ahead and waive prelim once again because we’re still waiting on the report from the state hospital that we believe will help us all resolve this,” said Beduhn.
At Beduhn’s request, the judge allowed Beduhn and prosecuting attorney John Frentheway to meet privately prior to the proceedings. After the private meeting, Mann’s attorney asked the court for reduction in his client’s bail amount, which had previously been set at $500,000 cash bond. After hearing brief arguments from both sides, the judge agreed to reduce the bond to $15,000 cash or a surety bond.
Mann’s attorney argued that he has been incarcerated for some time, including a “brief stay” at the state hospital in Evanston, and that he believed a $500,000 cash bond was “excessive” at this point and proposed a $15,000 cash or surety bond, which would allow Mann to be released for a lesser amount through a bail bondsman. He went on to argue that Mann has ties to the community after being a long-term resident in the state of Wyoming and the Lovell area and that his sister (who was also present in the courtroom) owns property in the area.
“Your honor, this man is simply not a flight risk,” said Beduhn.
Beduhn also asked that Mann be allowed to communicate with one of the alleged victims, Donna Booth, because both his client and the victim stated that it would help them to resolve the matter.
Prosecutor Frentheway added that he spoke to the victim at length a few weeks prior, and the victim told him that she was not afraid of Mann and wished to resume contact with him. That information, coupled with the fact that Mann did not appear to have a history of being a danger in the past, Frentheway said, made him feel comfortable with the reduced bail amount even though someone was shot in the incident.
After hearing the arguments the judge allowed the postponement of the preliminary hearing, which was rescheduled for May 21 at 11 a.m. in the same court. He also allowed the reduced bond under the condition that Mann is not allowed to possess any firearms or ammunition, upon his release. He is also required to report to the Lovell Police Department on a daily basis and is not allowed to use or possess alcohol or controlled substances and, as part of his bond agreement, is subject to random testing for those substances.
He must stay in touch with his attorney and provide information of any changes of address or phone numbers to him. He is not to have any contact with the alleged victim Laura Morris, who was also involved in the incident, but the judge allowed contact to resume with alleged victim Donna Booth. Booth was shot in the incident.
Mann was released from custody on bond later the same day.
By Patti Carpenter