Judge finds probable cause to set PdC man’s arraignment for Aug. 11

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Chase Harville appeared in court July 30, for a preliminary hearing in the case involving the July 10 death of a 3-year-old boy.

Chase Harville, 29, of Prairie du Chien, sat in Crawford County court last week, hanging his head for most of the preliminary hearing. (Photos by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

 

An arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 1:30 p.m. in Crawford County Circuit Court for a Prairie du Chien man charged with first degree reckless homicide. The accused, Chase Harville, 29, is expected to enter a plea. 

In addition to the first degree reckless homicide charge in the death of a 3-year-old boy, B.E.J., he is charged with misdemeanor battery-domestic abuse, possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

During Harville’s preliminary hearing July 30, Judge Lynn Rider bound him over for trial. She stated she was satisfied that there was, presented in court, sufficient probable cause “that a felony has been committed, probably by Mr. Harville.”

Harville appeared in court personally, upon his request at the last minute. He was brought to the second floor courtroom from a Crawford County Jail cell, where he had appeared via Zoom video conference for his two initial appearances. 

Wearing a disposable face mask due to COVID-19 precautions, Harville shuffled in and out of the room with his wrists and ankles cuffed together, hanging his head often. As evidence was introduced at the hearing, he shook his head side to side at least half a dozen times.

Throughout the appearance, Harville did not glance over at any of the victim’s five family and friends seated behind him in the courtroom, including Erica and Camille Kapinus, B.E.J.’s mother and grandmother. Erica held a large, framed photograph of her son throughout  the 90-minute hearing and, at one time, could be heard crying.  

Crawford County District Attorney Lukas Steiner and Harville’s attorney, Jeremiah Meyer-O’Day, questioned two local law enforcement officers as witnesses—one in the death case, another in the case of alleged drugs and firearm possession. The third case against Harville at this time involves the misdemeanor battery. 

Lt. Investigator Ryan Fradette, of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, referenced details of what occurred during the early morning hours of July 10, when he was called out to 61906 County N, in Eastman Township, “for the suspicious death of a child.” 

Fradette responded to Steiner’s questions about what he witnessed at the scene, what he heard during some questioning of Harville done by Department of Justice Division of Criminal special agents, and what was reported in the autopsy of B.E.J. done by UW-Madison forensic pathologist Michael Stier. 

“The reported cause or classification of injuries was blunt force head trauma,” Fradette stated. 

Otherwise, all of what he stated corresponded with the particulars of the criminal complaint in the case. (These details were written in the print and digital editions of the July 22 Courier Press.)

Upon being asked by Meyer-O’Day, Fradette said Harville’s initial interview—after being apprehended on the afternoon of July 10—was approximately 5-6 hours long. 

In his final preliminary hearing statement to Judge Rider, DA Steiner said, “The boy passed by homicide blunt force trauma, according to the autopsy. Harville was the only adult in the home at the time the boy was injured. He admits he threw the boy across the room. I think that’s adequate enough for probable cause.”

Meyer-O’Day acknowledged that his client showed “utter disregard for the value of life,” in the death of B.E.J., but he insisted there was not enough evidence presented to proceed with the charge of “recklessness in homicide.” 

“I request that the state may not charge that crime against him,” the attorney said.

Harville has a prior conviction, in 2015, of child abuse-intentionally causing harm.

Prairie du Chien Police Officer Max Erickson also took the stand in court July 30. He said he responded on May 15, to a state probation agent’s request for security at the Harville residence in Prairie du Chien, as a firearm and suspected drug paraphernalia were allegedly located in Harville’s bedroom. 

“Threats had been made by Harville to some anonymous people, to whom he showed a firearm,” Erickson said. 

He further noted that, on May 15, state probation agent Seth Reynolds located, under Harville’s bed, a smoking device and a small box with a trace amount of suspected marijuana. Also found under his bed were a black soft case containing an M&P 9mm gun with three magazines and a box of ammunition.

Harville’s Aug. 11 arraignment will address all current charges against him.

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