2018-08-30 / Front Page

Minore still out; is he a danger?

Accused of robbing 3 banks
By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff

MINORE MINORE The man who the Leelanau County Prosecutor’s Office accused of robbing a bank in Empire remains out of jail and uncharged with a crime.

That’s bothersome to prosecutors in Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties, but a relief for accused bank robber William F. Minore of Benzie County.

“He’s trying to put his life back together,” said court-appointed defense attorney William G. Burdette, who represents Minore. Burdette fought an effort by county prosecutors to include evidence about two bank robberies in Benzie County in a Leelanau County trial. Burdette appealed that aspect of the case and lost at the Michigan Supreme Court. He expects that Minore will eventually be tried in federal court for the alleged bank robberies after the case was dropped in Leelanau at the request of the U.S. Justice Department.

But federal prosecution was set back in April when a U.S. Magistrate ruled that not enough evidence had been presented to bind Minore over. He was released to Grand Traverse County, which successfully prosecuted Minore in July for having two stun guns when arrested, a felony.

However, by that time Minore had spent more than 500 days in jail, Burdette said. He was sentence to a $100 fine, time already served in jail and no probation.

So far, Minore has avoided a trial after Leelanau County Prosecutor Joseph T. Hubbell withdrew bank robbery charges in 13th Circuit Court.

The thought at the time was that Benzie and Leelanau bank robberies would be combined into one federal trial, saving both counties the cost of prosecution.

Hubbell still believes that Minore will be tried in federal court through a Grand Jury indictment.

“I’m holding off until I know what the feds will do, and I’m pretty certain they will move forward in a way that supports the victims in Leelanau County, but also in Benzie County,” Hubbell said. “It would be a lot more efficient.”

Hubbell said he understood why Minore received such a low fine and no more jail time from Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power.

“I’m not going to criticize the judge. It is what it is. I didn’t imagine they were going to send him to prison. If those charges were put in place at the time of his arrest, he would have already served enough,” Hubbell said.

Grand Traverse prosecutor Bob Cooney said he pressed for the felony stun gun charge and did not offer a plea deal partially because of other articles found in Minore’s vehicle at the time of his arrest.

Near the Tasers, Cooney said, police officers found what he described as a “rape kit.” Discovered in a black duffel bag were two nylon ropes tied into nooses, black leggings, sex toys, and another rope that had some blood on it. There was also a mattress in the van that had blood, Cooney’s office reported.

“Here’s a guy who allegedly will hold a gun to people’s faces. Now he’s got Tasers near what I would call a rape kit. And a Taser can be used to disable a person. That’s one of the factors I don’t think the public was aware of,” Cooney said.

He’s also been frustrated by a lack of federal prosecution for the bank robberies.

“I don’t know why the federal prosecutors would take so long before getting an indictment from a grand jury. That’s one of the things that’s frustrating for me as a prosecutor,” Cooney said.

Burdette denied the existence of anything described as a “rape kit” owned by Minore.

“It wasn’t a rape kit. We deny that. It’s just not true. None of that was presented in any hearings,” Burdette said.

Minore was held in a Leelanau County Jail on a $1 million bond after his arrest on charges of armed robbery, unlawful driving away of an automobile and felony firearm in connection with the Sept. 7 robbery of the Huntington Bank in Empire.

In that robbery, a man dressed in black and wearing a ski mask walked through the front door of the bank armed with a silver handgun and demanded money. After getting $36,966, the man left the bank through a back door. The money has never been found.

County prosecutors planned to present evidence they say connects Minore to 2015 robberies at the Honor State Bank in Lake Ann.

Regardless of whether or by whom a trial is held in connection with the bank robberies, the process has already been expensive. Taxpayers in Leelanau County in May reimbursed more than $38,000 to cover Minore’s legal defense.

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