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Trial set in Lakeside assault, robbery case

A judge recently upheld four felony charges against Warren Holt Jr. in the alleged June 2021 attack on a 78-year-old man.

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DULUTH — A February trial has been scheduled for the defendant accused of severely assaulting an elderly Lakeside neighborhood man and stealing his truck in June 2021.

Warren Holt Jr., 30, also pleaded not guilty last week to a number of charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault that occurred in February, while he was free on bond.

Warren Holt Jr.jpg
Warren Holt Jr.

Holt is accused of going to a residence on the 6100 block of East Superior Street on June 16, 2021, and attacking a 78-year-old man. A criminal complaint alleges that he struck the victim with a can, wrapped his arm around the man's neck and dragged him to the rear of a garage, where the victim was stabbed multiple times with an awl, a woodworking tool similar to an ice pick.

The victim told police that the suspect had been by his house less than an hour before the attack, looking a Ford truck parked in the driveway before the homeowner "shooed" him away. The complaint describes an "ambush" attack that left the victim with several injuries to the face and head as well as puncture wounds to the chest, including above his heart. He also suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung and injuries to the neck and throat, according to court documents.

Holt was allegedly found driving the victim's Ford near Scanlon about 30 minutes later. He reportedly told Carlton County deputies that he was looking to purchase the truck and was test-driving it. Arresting officers noted he had a fresh cut on his wrist and apparent blood on his shoe.

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Warren Holt Jr. told the deputies who arrested him that he was taking the stolen vehicle for a test drive.

Holt is charged in that case with aggravated first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree burglary. Judge Jill Eichenwald last month upheld all the charges, denying a defense motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause.

"Defendant was not simply found in the stolen vehicle; he was found in the stolen vehicle in a neighboring county approximately 30 minutes after Duluth police responded to the scene, in a location that would take approximately 30-45 minutes to get to from the scene," Eichenwald wrote. "Defendant's location in the stolen vehicle was situated in such a place that it did not afford much time to allow him to obtain the vehicle in another reasonable manner."

Defense attorney Derek Hansen pointed to a lack of positive eyewitness identification of Holt as the man responsible for the attack, but the judge said the blood on his shoes was a strong indicator of his involvement.

"This blood was specifically excluded from being defendant's blood and instead matched (the victim's) DNA," Eichenwald noted. "There is nothing in the record to indicate blood was located anywhere in the truck."

The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 21 before Judge Eric Hylden at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth.

Warren Holt Jr. is facing six new felonies after allegedly physically assaulting and threatening a woman to make her engage in sexual acts.

Holt was free on $150,000 bond when he was again arrested Feb. 14 for the alleged sexual assault. A complaint in that case alleges that he physically assaulted a woman and threatened to kill her if she did not engage in sexual acts.

The victim told police that Holt grabbed her by the neck, choked her to the point that she could not breathe for a few seconds and punched her in the stomach during the assault, which eventually ended when she made an excuse to briefly get away and call 911.

The woman told police that Holt had engaged in similar conduct on at least three occasions in prior months, according to the complaint. Records show that he has four prior convictions for acts of domestic abuse toward the same woman.

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Holt is charged in that case with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of felony domestic assault, stalking and threats of violence.

He has remained in the St. Louis County Jail since that arrest, having been unable to post an additional $150,000 bond.

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Police consider it an isolated incident as both parties are known to each other.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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