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Judge orders suspect in Superior killing held without bail

A Douglas County judge on Friday granted the prosecutor's request that an Arizona man accused of, in essence, a domestic execution be held in jail without bail pending further court proceedings.

Juan Leonardo Padilla
Juan Leonardo Padilla

A Douglas County judge on Friday granted the prosecutor's request that an Arizona man accused of, in essence, a domestic execution be held in jail without bail pending further court proceedings.

Juan Leonardo Padilla, 41, of Fort Mohave, Ariz., made his initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the May 23 slaying of Terence Rodney Luukkonen, 46, of Duluth. The defendant faces a life prison sentence if convicted.

Luukkonen was sitting in the driver's seat of his car in the parking lot of Genesis Attachments in Superior, where he worked as a purchasing director, when he was shot in the head. He was pronounced dead at a Duluth hospital.

Luukkonen's fiancée identified Padilla as a possible suspect. She told Superior police she met him in Arizona two years ago and the two had been acquaintances since then.

The woman told police that about a month ago she told Padilla she was breaking off her relationship with him to be with Luukkonen. She said that Padilla was upset and made statements about Luukkonen such as: "I hate that (expletive deleted)," "I want to kill him" and told the woman "I can't live without you."

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Northwestern Wisconsin Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O'Neill Jr. is representing Padilla. O'Neill waived formal reading of the criminal complaint Friday and asked Judge George Glonek to schedule a preliminary hearing, which will be held on June 19.

The other issue covered Friday was bail. The purpose of bail is to assure that a defendant shows up for court. But the judge has to consider a number of other factors in deciding whether to grant bail, including the seriousness of the offense and whether the defendant has ties to the region he or she is being tried in.

"The state would argue that there's no bail-able conditions of release or dollar amount that would protect the community or the intimidation of witnesses," Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank told the court in requesting that Padilla be held without bail. "Mr. Padilla has no ties to this area whatsoever. He's from Arizona."

Defense attorney O'Neill said not allowing his client bail was "unreasonable under the circumstances."

"A fair reading of the complaint suggests that there is at best some circumstantial information regarding the situation," O'Neill told the court. "While we acknowledge that Mr. Padilla does not have ties to the area, he has served this country in the Armed Forces. He has worked in the state of Arizona as a law enforcement officer and understands the nature and circumstances of bail and conditions of bail. ... We would ask that the court set reasonable cash bail."

Glonek granted Blank's request that Padilla be held without bail. The judge told the parties that because the defendant has no contacts in Wisconsin, and because of the seriousness of the charged offense, there were no conditions of release that would be adequate to protect members of the community. The court also ordered Padilla to have no contact with the slain man's fiancée directly, by writing, electronically nor through other people.

After the hearing, O'Neill said he wasn't prepared to talk about his client's defense.

"I've not yet had an opportunity to sit down and have meaningful discussions with Juan about the charges yet," O'Neill said. "I was able to go to his extradition hearing in Duluth the other day. We met very briefly. We're going to be sitting down and discussing the issues. This is a process, not an event. We're a ways away from entering a formal plea to the charge. And obviously we will be exploring all the issues before that plea is entered."

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The public defender was asked what his client was thinking about or feeling.

"Overwhelmed would be the best way I can describe it right now," O'Neill said. "He's overwhelmed."

Related Topics: CRIMESUPERIOR
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