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Hearing for hammer-wielding suspect postponed

by David Cole
| December 29, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The man police say bludgeoned a Bayview woman to death with a hammer and put two other people in the hospital with it appeared briefly in court Tuesday.

Larry W. Cragun, 31, of Bayview, was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Thursday, but now that won't happen for at least another month, Judge Clark A. Peterson ruled.

In a preliminary hearing, a magistrate will determine from evidence presented whether or not there is probable cause to believe that Cragun committed the murder and attacks on Dec. 19 at Cragun's next-door-neighbor's mobile home overlooking Lake Pend Oreille.

Cragun's defense attorneys can cross-examine witnesses called by prosecutors at that hearing and may introduce evidence of their own. Magistrate Penny Friedlander is scheduled for the hearing.

If Friedlander finds probable cause exists, she can send the case up to 1st District Court in Kootenai County. If not, she can dismiss the complaint against Cragun and order he be released from Kootenai County jail.

Cragun is accused of hitting Patricia Heath, 43, in the head with a hammer. She died Dec. 20 at Kootenai Medical Center from massive head trauma.

Prosecutors have said they are charging Cragun with first-degree murder for Heath's death.

They also are charging him with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and burglary, which are all felonies.

Lorraine Wallis, 58, and Jedidiah Heath, 21, were both sent to the hospital following the attack.

Jedidiah Heath was treated and released shortly after the attack, as The Press reported a week ago. Wallis was in critical condition after the attacks, but has since improved and was released.

Patricia Heath's husband and Wallis' son, Michael Heath, 40, suffered minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital.

Police have said they believe Cragun just walked into the Heaths' mobile home uninvited with a hammer and large kitchen knife and went on a rampage. The family had been watching TV in the mobile home on the 34500 block of North Limekiln Road, they said.

Police said Cragun allegedly attacked the family because he believes they had "raped" him and his ex-wife and daughter. His ex-wife has said there's absolutely no truth to that allegation. No other motive has been reported, though neighbors and the Heaths have said the two sides had been having problems getting along.

Bayview residents familiar with Cragun said he had been acting irrationally of late, and he had become known as "Crazy Larry."

Cragun has previous convictions for drug possession, domestic violence assault, attempting to elude police, drunken driving and battery, according to court records.

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