By WARREN DILLAWAY - email@example.com
JEFFERSON — Eastern County Court Judge Robert S. Wynn determined there was enough evidence to bind over an alleged bank robber to Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court.
Wynn made the decision after a preliminary hearing Thursday morning related to aggravated robbery charges filed following a Dec. 17 bank robbery in North Kingsville.
Richard Hakala Jr., 47, of Kingsville Township is charged with robbing a First Merit bank on Route 193 shortly before closing time.
Police said they arrested Hakala at his home at 6754 Reed Road, less than three hours after he left a threatening note to a teller at the bank.
North Kingsville police were assisted by the FBI, Ashtabula County Sheriff’s deputies and the Conneaut Police Department after receiving assistance from a Kingsville Township man who talked with Hakala following the robbery.
The teller testified that Hakala was the man who handed her a note requesting money at 4:50 p.m.
She said Hakala handed her a note with instructions. “I have a gun. Put the money on the counter. I know where you live. If I get caught, my partner will come to your house,” she said the note stated.
The teller said she handed over the money because she was scared he did have a gun and her life was in danger. She also said she and her bank manager were told to “watch their hands.”
Public defender Joseph Humpolick cross-examined the teller, asking her if she had actually seen a gun. She said she had not.
The judge cut the proceedings short, saying there was enough evidence after one witness to show probable cause in the case. The evidence will now be presented to an Ashtabula County Grand Jury for possible indictment.
The case was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. but did not occur until about 10:30 a.m. because several people close to the case were not able to arrive in time because of weather-related transportation issues.
Wynn denied Humpolick’s request that Hakala’s $50,000 bond be reduced because Hakala is a lifelong resident with family in the area.
Hakala was a Harbor High School graduate and coached wrestling at the school in the 1990s.
North Kingsville police said that bank money was found under the Reed Road house, in a kitchen cookie jar, under a mattress and in a bedside table.