Two More Charged in Assault of Hinckley Driving Instructor; Charges Against Thomas Increase
Two more men have been charged in the November beating of Hinckley driving instructor Dwaine Palmer.
Charges were filed in Pine County court Wednesday against Aaron Jay Lagarde, 18, of Minneapolis and Johnathon Cody Thomas, 20. Each faces five counts in the case.
They are both charged with Aiding/Abetting Assault in the first, second and third degree, as well as Aiding/Abetting Simple Robbery, and Aiding/Abetting Aggravated Robbery in the first degree.
If convicted, Thomas and Lagarde could spend a maximum 62-years in prison and pay over $100,000 in fines.
Neither Thomas nor Lagarde are in custody. According to Pine County Chief Deputy Steve Ovick, Thomas is on the run and a summons and complaint will be issued for Lagarde’s arrest.
The third man charged in the attack, Olaf Thomas, 22, of Sandstone was arrested in December. He was originally charged with four counts, but now faces additional charges.
On Wednesday, the Pine County Attorney’s office charged O. Thomas with Aiding/Abetting Assault in the first degree and Aiding/Abetting Aggravated Robbery in the first degree.
Ovick said the investigation took time because of lack of cooperation.
Palmer, 64, was beaten by three men while walking his dog, Sweetie, the morning of November 29th. The attack left Palmer with a broken nose, jaw, eye sockets, and cracked ribs.
According to the criminal complaint, the men knocked Palmer to the ground, began punching him in the face and stomping on his head. It’s alleged that they stole his cell phone.
Pine County Investigators determined the last time Palmer used the phone was on November 28th, a day prior to the attack. T-mobile discovered the phone was used again on November 29th and 30th but with a different SIM card. The card was registered to O. Thomas’ father.
During the investigation, police were told by a woman who knows O. Thomas that he was boasting about the attack. The criminal complaint states the woman said “he pointed to the marks on his hand saying ‘this is where I punched him in the teeth.’ ”
Police obtained a search warrant for Thomas’ residence and found a pair of shoes with blood on the laces. Police also say the pattern on the sole of the shoe is consistent with the pattern noted on the skin of Palmer’s head.
Lagarde told investigators that he attended a party with O. Thomas and J. Thomas the morning of the attack. He said he consumed a lot of alcohol and does not remember most of the night. According to the complaint, Lagarde denied remembering being involved in a fight or hitting Palmer. He admitted to “seeing a guy on the ground on the sidewalk.” He then stated that the Thomas’ told him to run.
O. Thomas appeared in court Wednesday for violating a pre-trial release condition. He admitted using marijuana and is currently in treatment in St. Cloud. He is due back in Pine County court on February 5th.
Dwaine Palmer is recovering and back working as a driving instructor in Hinckley. He says as bad as the physical injuries are, it’s the emotional damage that hurts most.
Read an extended story on Dwaine Palmer’s recovery this weekend on Redrockonair.com