Ishpeming standoff suspect bound over to circuit court

The Ishpeming man at the center of 15-hour standoff with local police has had his case bound over to circuit court where he faces a possible 20 year sentence for first degree home invasion.

Robert Rajala, 33, appeared in Ishpeming District Court Tuesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing after pleading not guilty at his arraignment two weeks ago.

During the proceedings, the victim, who has a daughter with Rajala, went into graphic detail about their storied past.  She claims that after Rajala found out she was pregnant she kept getting threats.

“He wanted me and my baby to tie,” the victim said.  “He threatened to harm me.  He said if I even tried to file for child support, he was going to kill himself.  So I just felt more obligated to stay than anything.”

Her testimony also outlined what had transpired in the days leading up to the incident, which took place at her parent’s home where she allegedly lives and he only stays from time to time because he has a place of his own.

She says, two days before the standoff, she asked him to help her with housework, but he kept leaving to get drunk with his friends.  While he was reportedly in Ontonagon, she asked him not to come back, saying “I can’t do this.”

She claims he texted her back saying, “I’ll be at the house with a gun in 30 minutes.”

“He threatened to come there with a gun and kill you,” Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese said.

“Kill the person that was there,” she said.  “But, there was nobody there besides me.”

“You said something about him making a comment about doing something to somebody’s…,” Wiese said.

“He told me he’d keep me alive long enough to enjoy it,” she said.

She says he came by later that day and an altercation ensued.  But, after the cops were called he left.

The next day, she packed up his stuff and told him to let her know if he wanted to come and get it.

On Monday, April 14–the day of the incident–she says she was laying down with her daughter in her bed when she heard the dogs start barking.  She claims she got up to see why, and saw him standing in the kitchen.

After she allegedly asked him to leave several times and attempted to escort him out the door by the elbow, he reportedly said, “I’m taking this as a way of hurting me.”

Then she claims he went toward the room their daughter was sleeping in.  When she attempted to stop him things reportedly escalated.

“He started raising his arm to hit me and I turned my head,” she said.  “He kept hitting me in the back of the head, several times.  Then he started kicking me in the back and in the sides.”

She claims she looked around and saw that there was a big streak of blood on the couch.  She didn’t know who it was from at first, but then he reportedly got up to clean his hand which had allegedly been cut from punching her.

Then she claims she grabbed her daughter from the room and ran out the front door with her, before locking herself in his truck and calling her sister for help.  Her sister called the cops shortly after, and the standoff ensued.

The defense brought into question her conduct in past relationships, and the residential status of Rajala.  They claim he lived with her at the residence in question, and therefore should not be subject to first degree home invasion charges.

Judge Roger Kangas considered all of the material presented and opted to bind the case over.

“I know there’s always two sides to a story and I know that at a preliminary examination I’m pretty much getting one side of it,” he said.  “But, it’s not a pretty picture.  I have no inclination to change the bond or changed the differed jail time right now, if there’s some placement somewhere else.”

“But I think there’s been way to much alcohol poured on an open flame.  There’s been some conduct here that no one should have to live through.”

Rajala’s bond is set at $150,000.

He will appear in Marquette County Circuit Court May 9 for his arraignment.