Skaluba case to continue in circuit court

ALPENA — The criminal sexual conduct case involving Nick Skaluba will continue to move forward in 26th Circuit Court despite a request from is attorney that the case be dismissed.

Skaluba is charged with two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of delivery of a controlled substance with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct. He also is charged with two counts of CSC three.

Defense attorney Dan White asked that the case be quashed on grounds that Montmorency County Probate Judge Benjamin Bolser bound the case over to circuit court with an act of abuse of discretion.

During a hearing Friday 46th Circuit Court Judge George Mertz heard the case to have the charges dropped. After listening to arguments, Mertz ruled that Bolser was correct in determining testimony and evidence presented in 88th District Court created enough probable cause that a crime was committed.

“After looking at the facts in this case and Judge Bolser’s decision there are a lot of conflicting statement and testimony by the victims themselves and it appeared he relied on a fair amount of circumstantial evidence, but I believe looking at the record there is evidence, whoever weak it may be, that a crime may have been committed,” Mertz said.

White claimed there wasn’t enough evidence presented to have the case bound over. He said neither of the alleged victims could say with certainty that Skaluba had assaulted or drugged them. White said there was no Xanax or Adderall found in their systems after they were tested at the hospital, and tests on the glassware at the home where the parties were held in the summer of 2016 detected no drugs on them.

Neither of the victims testified they saw Skaluba put any drugs into their drinks and according to White none of the other people at the party did either. He said it is a case where teenagers experimented with drugs and alcohol and intoxication was a prime reason nobody seems to remember what really happened the nights of the parties.

White said one of the victims told police that she didn’t think she was assaulted while being interviewed, but changed her story after a series of conversations with friends and acquaintances who also were at the party.

“There was no evidence, of any nature that shows that my client put anything into any drink,” White said. “There was no talk about the drinks looking funny, smelling funny or tasting funny. There was nothing. There was also no evidence obtained after the fact.”

One of the victims said she had too much to drink and began going in and out of consciousness. She testified that at one point she woke up while being assaulted by Thomas Hein, who also is charged with the crime, and who she believed to be Skaluba. White said her testimony leaves doubt that it was his client and questions as to what the victim remembers and if any penetration took place.

“There is no specific testimony that show that my client made any type of penetration,” White said.

Alpena County Prosecutor Ed Black said Bolser ruled the right way because the testimony of the victims offered enough evidence to have the case moved to circuit court. He said all he needed to do was prove there was personal injury or loss to create enough probable cause for Bolser. He said both girls, who admitted getting drunk more than once, both said the buzz felt different that previous times and both woke up without any underwear on.

“They knew that there was something more exacerbated in their bodies when it came to drinking than what they have ever felt before,” Black said. “It seemed to them there was something out of the ordinary was going on to them. Something that they were not familiar with.”

After Mertz ruled the case will continue to move forward, Black requested that both Skaluba and Hein have future hearing scheduled at the same time. Mertz agreed.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.