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N.D. Supreme Court: Cobb entitled to ‘reasonable’ bail; hearing set for Friday

Craig Cobb entitled to "reasonable" bail, North Dakota State Supreme Court rules.

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Supreme Court has ordered a judge to set “reasonable bail with reasonable conditions” for a white supremacist who has been held without bail since his arrest last month for allegedly terrorizing residents in the small town of Leith.

A bail hearing for Craig Cobb is set for 2:30 p.m. Friday in Bismarck before Judge Cynthia Feland via interactive television.

Judge Thomas Schneider originally ordered Cobb to be held without bail on Nov. 18 in Grant County District Court. Judge Bruce Haskell extended that order during a hearing Monday, at the same time setting cash-only bail at $50,000 for Kynan Dutton, who along with Cobb is charged with seven felony counts of terrorizing for allegedly approaching Leith residents with loaded firearms on Nov. 15 and 16.

Cobb asked the Supreme Court last week to intervene, but the high court decided to reserve judgment pending the outcome of Monday’s hearing.

In an order filed Tuesday, justices granted Cobb’s request, referring to a section of the state Constitution that requires bail for all defendants “unless for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great.”

The Supreme Court also noted there’s no evidence in the court record of an extraditable Canadian offense for which Cobb can be held without bail, which the Bismarck Tribune reported was part of Haskell’s reason for continuing Cobb’s no-bond status.

Cobb fled to the United States after being charged Dec. 31, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the willful promotion of hatred. Authorities have said Cobb can’t be extradited back to Canada because there is no similar U.S. law for the offense.

The high court ordered the district court to set bail no later than Friday.

Cobb and Dutton remained jailed in Stanton on Thursday afternoon.

Cobb moved to Leith and made plans to turn it into a whites-only community. He was later joined by Dutton.

Leith Mayor Ryan Schock said he believes Cobb’s bail should be set at $1 million, cash only.

“If he gets out, he’s either going to flee or he’s going to come and hurt somebody. It’s just plain and simple. That’s my concern, I guess,” he said.

A message left for Cobb at the jail was not returned.

Meanwhile, the city of Leith is trying to condemn Cobb’s house after he missed a Dec. 14 deadline to have sewer and water service installed as required by a uniform building code approved by the City Council in early November, after Cobb’s plans became known.

Schock said Thursday he was still waiting for the condemnation paperwork from City Attorney Thomas Kelsch and hoped to have it by the end of the week. A message left for Kelsch was not returned.

The city plans to demolish Cobb’s house, along with several other structures identified by Custer Health as public nuisances in the town of about 20 people 75 miles southwest of Bismarck. Schock said they would like to raze all of the structures at the same time.

The city had planned to evict Dutton’s girlfriend, Deborah Henderson, from Cobb’s home, where she lived with her three children, but she left on her own, Schock said.

Reached by phone Thursday, Henderson said she didn’t leave Leith because of the pending eviction. She said she couldn’t comment on why she left, adding, “But I think it’s pretty obvious.”

She declined to disclose her location or plans.

“I did what I needed to for the safety of me and my children,” she said.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.