A Duluth man made his first court appearance Monday on murder charges stemming from a Jan. 2 Park Point home invasion.
Darrel Darryl Mayhew, 29, is charged with four felonies in connection with the death of 70-year-old Larry Watczak. Authorities allege that Mayhew walked through the front door of Watczak's home and struck him over the head with a blunt object, leaving with Watczak's cellphone, tablet computer and roughly $2 in cash.
Watczak remained in a coma for 10 days, during which time Mayhew was arraigned on several charges including assault. After Watczak's Jan. 12 death at a Duluth hospital, St. Louis County prosecutor Rebekka Stumme added the murder charges.
Mayhew appeared briefly before 6th Judicial District Judge Dale Harris, who signed the amended criminal complaint. The defendant waived a 28-day deadline to appear for an omnibus hearing, at which he can challenge probable cause or constitutional issues.
Defense attorney J.D. Schmid told the judge he has received numerous police reports, body-camera footage and audio recordings but said he is still awaiting other evidence including surveillance video before determining how to proceed with the defense.
Harris scheduled the omnibus hearing for March 4.
Watczak was coherent when police first responded to his home on the 800 block of South Lake Avenue around 6 p.m. According to the criminal complaint, he told officers an unknown intruder struck him with an unknown object and threw a towel over his head. He reported that the man demanded money, so he produced his pocket change, and the suspect left.
Investigators were not able to follow up with Watczak before he suffered a seizure and necessitated emergency brain surgery, and went into the coma from which he never emerged.
Surveillance footage played a key role in the investigation, as police said they were able to collect clips showing Mayhew leaving Park Point, walking through Canal Park and entering downtown.
The victim's phone was recovered at a downtown boarding house, where residents reported a man giving it away on Jan. 2. After releasing a surveillance image to the public, police were able to identify the suspect as Mayhew.
Police executed a search warrant at Mayhew's residence, finding the tablet computer and clothing consistent with that seen on the suspect, according to the complaint. His girlfriend also reported that he had been away on Jan. 2, coming home with the tablet and other items but refusing to tell her where they came from.
Mayhew is charged with intentional second-degree murder, unintentional second-degree murder, aggravated first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary. Stumme has filed a notice of intent to seek an aggravated sentence based on the crimes occurring within the victim's "zone of privacy."
Mayhew remains in the St. Louis County Jail. While bail was set at $750,000, active arrest warrants from Hennepin and Ramsey counties prevent him from being released from custody.