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Cape man waives preliminary hearing in office vandalism
The Cape Girardeau man charged with causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage to a local office building in June waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday because his lawyer says his client is not denying he did it.
But what the legal strategy is remains to be seen as the man's parents are now asking a family-law judge to let them assume the role of his legal guardian.
Travis H. Fornkohl appeared briefly in court Tuesday in front of Judge Scott Thomsen for a scheduled preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors typically work to convince a judge that enough evidence exists to bind defendants over for trial.
But his lawyer, Malcolm Montgomery, waived the hearing and said later that he won't be arguing that Fornkohl did not vandalize the office building at 3605 William St. the night of June 30. The waiving of the hearing relinquished the state's requirement to show probable cause.
"The actual commission of the act is not an issue so we waived the preliminary hearing," Montgomery said.
Fornkohl stands charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage in connection with the vandalism of the Auburn Park Place office building. Police say an anonymous informant directed authorities to Fornkohl. After he was arrested, police say, Fornkohl confessed to entering the building through an unsecured door and later opened a 6-inch water line on the sixth floor.
Surveillance video from a Drug Enforcement Administration office on the building's fifth floor allegedly shows Fornkohl walking through the building that evening. The release of the water set off fire alarms, which drew authorities.
On Tuesday, Thomsen sent Fornkohl's case to the circuit court level, scheduling an arraignment in Jackson in front of Judge Ben Lewis for 9 a.m. Sept. 10. Two days later, an adjudication hearing is scheduled at the Common Pleas Courthouse in Cape Girardeau in front of Judge Scott Lipke, in which Fornkohl's parents are asking to take over as their son's conservator. Montgomery would not go into specifics, but he said that the secondary court case is a factor in the first. But Montgomery added that he has "no reason to believe" that his client will be pleading not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
"But he has some issues that are creating great difficulties," Montgomery said.
Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said he had no comment about the specifics of the case. Fornkohl has been free on $20,000 bond since July 27.
3065 William St., Cape Girardeau, MO