STANTON, N.D. — Two neo-Nazis who carried guns through Leith last weekend while patrolling a town they're attempting to take over are being held without bail following a court appearance in Stanton on Monday afternoon.
Craig Cobb, 62, and Kynan Dutton, 29, are each charged with seven counts of terrorizing Leith residents and on five of those involving guns could face mandatory minimum sentences of two years in jail for each.
Sherrill Harper and Lee Cook, both members of the Leith City Council, attended the hearing and afterward expressed relief that the men will remain behind bars.
“It’s a great feeling,” Harper said. “This could be a notch in the beginning of the end.”
She’s referring to three months of tension while Cobb and Dutton posted ugly racial signs in town, flew Nazi flags, disrupted town meetings and lately, brandished a rifle and shotgun to display their authority.
Cook said it may now be safe for his family to return to Leith and live in peace.
“Hell, that’s what we’ve been through. Everybody’s been terrorized,” Cook said.
Cook was one of the five people confronted with guns Saturday afternoon.
South Central District Judge Tom Schneider presided over the tele-video bond hearing.
Cobb, who’s masterminding the attempted white separatists’ takeover, told the judge he intended to represent himself. Dutton said he wants a court-appointed attorney.
The men are in Stanton under Grant County’s jail contract.
Grant County State’s Attorney Todd Schwarz said Cobb should be held without bail because he skipped out on hate crimes proceedings in Canada and because he has no ties to Leith, after deeding his personal property over to his Creativity religion. He said Cobb has no visible means of support, even though he had about $11,000 in cash on him when he was booked into jail Saturday.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also may bring additional charges, Schwarz told the judge.
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“Residents have told me they’d feel a great deal of fear if he and Dutton are in Leith. They’ve dealt with rhetoric, insults and outright threats,” Schwarz said.
He said Dutton should be held without bond because he violated his earlier bond provisions and even his wife, Deborah Dutton, who remained in Cobb’s house, says she “wants to get out.”
Cobb said that Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is trying to influence the case by saying he’s (Cobb) not wanted here, even though “I’m not a felon.”
Cobb lapsed into a long silence while talking to the judge and said he’s experiencing short-term memory loss because he can’t take his gingko supplements in jail.
Dutton told the judge he’s not a flight risk because he needs to take care of his family.
“I don’t feel they’re safe. My children are being threatened. I’d like to be there to protect her and the kids,” he told the judge.
Schneider made little comment, saying only “There will be no bond at this time.”
He told Cobb and Dutton earlier that the case will proceed to a preliminary hearing when the prosecutor will have to show probable cause for the charges.
Leith residents say they were terrorized by Cobb and Dutton in encounters that began Friday and escalated Saturday.
Before being taken into custody, Cobb told the Tribune he and Dutton were patrolling the town because of acts of violence against them. His house in Leith was recently vandalized and cars belonging to Dutton and to Nazi-supporter Alfred Borgmann were spray painted and tires slashed in the same late-night incident.
Schwarz said from an investigation into the vandalism, it appears it was done by one of Cobb’s own supporters.
Schwarz wouldn’t name which one, but Borgmann was kicked out of the Cobb compound shortly afterward and has been in residence in a Bismarck shelter.