A North Shore judge has rejected arguments from "Miracle" hockey legend Mark Pavelich's defense that guns collected during law enforcement searches of his home should be ruled inadmissible as evidence in the assault case and that two of the four felony counts should be dismissed.
The decision this week by Cook County District Judge Michael Cuzzo also included more details about what law enforcement found during their searches, including the discovery of a suspected booby trap and numerous firearms throughout the home.
Pavelich, 62, of Lutsen, is charged with second- and third-degree assault as well as weapons violations in connection with the beating of a neighbor with a metal pole after a fishing trip last summer. Pavelich, according to the charges, had accused the neighbor of "spiking his beer."
In September, Pavelich was moved from the state's high-security mental health hospital in St. Peter to a less restrictive facility in Sauk Centre as his criminal case moves forward.
Defense attorney Chris Stocke argued in a hearing in October that law enforcement lacked sufficient probable cause when guns were recovered during an initial search immediately after the 911 call on Aug. 15, 2019, and during a court-approved search immediately afterward. Stocke wanted two counts thrown out that allege possession of firearms with missing or altered serial numbers.
He specifically argued that because the alleged crime scene was in Pavelich's driveway, a warrant to search his home, outbuildings and vehicles was "overly broad" and lacked probable cause because there was nothing to indicate evidence of a crime would be found there.
However, Cuzzo said the two sheriff's deputies were within their rights to conduct the searches and denied the defense's motions to suppress the evidence and dismiss the two counts.
"The state submitted sufficient evidence to establish probable cause," Cuzzo wrote.
Deputies Jesse Johnson and Michael Running, along with a U.S. Forest Service officer testified in the October hearing that Running found a rope attached outside the home from a second-floor balcony to a ground-level glass door in a setup that resembled a booby trap. Pavelich could also be seen through a window moving about. A brief, cautionary search of the home turned up a modified shotgun under a bed, ammunition on a dresser and a rifle in plain view in the bathroom.
After securing a warrant from a judge, the officers soon returned and located the metal pipe on the lawn and two guns with serial numbers missing.
Family and friends have said the allegations against Pavelich don't fit with the man they said was once a generous introvert who lived quietly on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
A hockey star for Eveleth High School and then the University of Minnesota Duluth, Pavelich joined his U.S. teammates in winning gold in the 1980 Olympics, defeating the Soviet Union in a medal round game later dubbed the "Miracle on Ice," and he played several seasons in the National Hockey League afterward. In recent years, family and friends said, they watched him become confused, paranoid and borderline threatening. They said they came to believe that he suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by repeated blows to the head while playing hockey.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482