Today, Dale Warner’s bond hearing was held in Judge Schaedler’s Lenawee County District Court. Dale Warner was arrested last Tuesday afternoon at his home for the murder of his wife, Dee Ann Warner, and tampering with evidence. Dee was reported missing April 25, 2021.
Dale was not present in the courtroom but attended the hearing via Zoom from the Lenawee County Jail. Dale and his attorneys waived their right to have a preliminary exam within 21 days of his arraignment. Therefore, the preliminary exam previously scheduled for Wednesday, November 29, 2023, was tentatively rescheduled for March 26, 27, and 28, 2023.
Last week, Judge Schaedler set the bond for Dale Warner at 20 million dollars. Today, Dale’s attorney, Mary Chartier-Mittendorf, asked for the bond to be reduced, calling $20 million, “an astronomical amount no individual could truly meet.”
Ms. Chartier-Mittendorf claimed Dale was not a flight risk, reminding the court Dale is a lifelong Lenawee County resident with children in the state of Michigan. “His family is here in the courtroom, and he has long and stable roots here.” Chartier-Mittendorf went on to say, “His property was searched multiple times by dozens if not hundreds of police officers, so certainly there’s no concern about him destroying any alleged piece of evidence on his property.”
David McCreedy, attorney for the prosecution, argued for the bond to remain at $20M. He stated those in charge of protecting Dee’s estate believe Dale has an unknown source of cash. Assets have disappeared from Dee’s estate. “He has regularly traveled out of the country in the last two years. I believe he’s taken six trips out of the country since September of 2021. That’s four trips to Mexico, two into Canada. He has a passport. He’s also indicated to the police that he knows how to get out of the country surreptitiously. So, we do have a significant concern,” McCreedy said.
McCreedy estimated Dale goes to Florida about once a year. McCreedy claimed Dale has had jailhouse conversations about his contacts in Florida. “He has told people that there’s nothing keeping him here and that he’s going to move to Florida,” McCreedy said.
According to Chartier-Mittendorf, many Michiganders talk of moving to Florida and if Dale were going to flee, he would have done it before being charged with murder. “He has been out for two and a half years and has not been a risk to anyone in the community,” Chartier-Mittendorf said.
Judge Schaedler acknowledged Dale’s deep roots in Lenawee County, but said her decision was being persuaded by other matters. “When ordered by a court to do something, or to produce something, Mr. Warner has repeatedly chosen not to comply with the court’s order resulting in going to jail, as I understand it, for an extended period of time. That despite court orders telling him to cease and desist from certain things, he chose not to do those things,” Judge Schaedler said.
The judge asked if someone would do certain (illegal) things to prevent the loss of his assets, what would he be willing to do to prevent the loss of his freedom?
As to Dale not attempting to flee in the last two and a half years, Judge Schaedler said, “He hasn’t been facing murder charges the last two and a half years.”
“I am concerned. I’m concerned that there are lots of pieces and parts that have gone on before this action that demonstrate Mr. Warner’s lack of respect for the judicial system, judges specifically,” Judge Schaedler said. “He’s going to do what he wants to do. He can do it in the jail.”
Ultimately, Judge Schaedler reduced the bond to 10 million dollars on the open murder and 5 million dollars on the tampering charge. Dale was ordered to surrender his passport and the passport of his minor child. If Dale finds a way to make bail, he will wear a GPS tether.
After the bond hearing, I asked Dee’s brother, Gregg Hardy, what he thought about the reduction in Dale’s bond. “If it’s enough to keep him in jail, then it’s enough. Otherwise, it’s not,” Hardy said. As to Dale being ordered to turn in his passport, Hardy said, “Frankly, that should have happened a long time ago.”
What do you think of Dale’s bond reduction? Fair decision or is this a safety concern for the community? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!