Lakner headed to trial
Barney James Lakner, an Ely man convicted of numerous felonies in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, is headed to trial on sexual assault and firearm charges.
In a pretrial hearing Friday, one of Lakner’s attorneys, Gordon Pineo of Virginia, told 6th Judicial District Judge Michael Cuzzo they intended to argue their case in front of a jury.
Lakner, 48, was charged in November with third-degree sexual conduct, being a felon in possession of a handgun and being a felon in possession of ammunition. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine.
Lakner, dressed in a Minnesota Wild polo shirt and cargo shorts, only spoke at the pretrial hearing to confirm his name to Cuzzo. In May, another judge declined to throw out three felony accounts or suppress evidence in this latest run-in with the law.
Pineo challenged the search and seizure of a handgun and ammunition found in a duffel bag in Lakner’s cabin following a woman’s report of the alleged assault. Deputies found the bag while searching for possible drug and alcohol evidence, which caused them to apply for and receive a second search warrant.
Not-guilty pleas were previously entered on Lakner’s behalf. A trial was scheduled to begin Jan. 28, with a final pretrial hearing at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 18.
Lakner’s other attorney, Bruce R. Williams of Virginia, said the defense had a five-page questionnaire for the jury pool and requested Cuzzo provide time for the defense to “digest” the responses.
In 2007, Lakner pleaded guilty to five charges, including three felonies, and served a three-year prison sentence for a drunken fireworks- and gun-shooting rampage that terrorized campers near Basswood Lake.
Seven years later, Lakner ran afoul of the law again after fleeing and ramming Department of Natural Resources conservation officers in a snowmobile chase through the BWCAW, where motorized vehicles are prohibited. A Lake County jury convicted him on six charges, including one felony, and he was sentenced to probation and six months in jail.