GRAND MARAIS, Minn. – Former NHL hockey star Mark Pavelich cooperated with law enforcement on the night they came to arrest him at his wooded northern Minnesota home last summer, after a neighbor reported that Pavelich had beaten him with a metal pipe.
Once he was handcuffed, officers fed Pavelich’s dogs and went to his bedroom to get him some clothes so they could take him to jail, they testified in a court hearing Tuesday. One conducted a “protective sweep” of the house to see if anybody else was there.
That sweep and a warranted search of the property later that night are at the center of a defense attorney’s arguments that two weapons charges against Pavelich should be dismissed.
The criminal case against Pavelich — a 1980 “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey player once found “mentally ill and dangerous” and incompetent to stand trial — resumed after a judge ruled that he has been responding to treatment and can again face the charges against him.
Pavelich, 62, is accused of beating his neighbor after the two went fishing in August 2019, suspecting the neighbor of spiking his beer.
Pavelich, of Lutsen, faces four felony counts, including two assault charges and two illegal weapons charges after authorities found firearms with altered serial numbers on his property.
Pavelich, who moved recently from a secure state hospital to a less restrictive treatment center in central Minnesota, didn’t speak during the hearing. He wore a paper mask and occasionally conferred with his attorney, Chris Stocke, who is arguing that the weapons charges against Pavelich must be dismissed because they were discovered during illegal searches.
Authorities got involved after a neighbor reported that Pavelich attacked him with a metal pipe or pole as he was removing items from a vehicle, according to testimony from Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Running.
The neighbor, James T. Miller, was treated for cracked ribs, a bruised kidney, a fracture to one of his vertebrae and other injuries, according to a criminal complaint.
Under questioning from Assistant Cook County Attorney Brittany Kubes on Tuesday, three law enforcement officers who arrived at Pavelich’s house to make the arrest testified they knew about Pavelich because of prior contacts, including incidents involving disputes with neighbors and family members.
Running testified that the sheriff had sent out an e-mail warning his staff to use caution when dealing with Pavelich.
Pavelich’s attorney argued that the initial sweep, in which U.S. Forest Service officer Edward Belmore found a long gun under an upstairs bed, was presumptively unreasonable and led to the search warrant conducted hours later, which he argues was also unconstitutional and overly broad.
Authorities found the alleged weapon when they returned with the search warrant after midnight, according to testimony.
Stocke argues that because the alleged crime scene was in Pavelich’s driveway, a warrant to search his home, outbuildings and vehicles was “overly broad” and lacked probable cause because there was nothing to indicate evidence of a crime would be found there.
Family and friends said they saw Pavelich’s behavior change from a generous introvert who lived a quiet life to someone who became confused, paranoid and borderline threatening.
They said they came to believe he suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by repeated blows to the head playing hockey.
Pavelich’s sister and his attorneys have said he’s made significant mental health gains since complying with treatment.
Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102