LEWISTON — A judge set bail at $15,000 Friday for a Minnesota man charged with robbery in connection with the attempted robbery and beating of a 39-year-old local man on Park Street on Wednesday night.

The victim, John Katula, told police that a car stopped near Victor News variety store shortly before 11 p.m. He said a back seat passenger ran toward him, pulled a gun and pointed it at him, yelling a racial slur and demanding his backpack, according to an affidavit written by Detective Roland Godbout.

When Katula raised his arm to block the man’s hand, he was struck in the mouth and on the jaw, he told police. The driver of the car, later identified from a photo lineup as Fernando Novas De La Cruz, 23, of Minnesota, got out of the car and kicked Katula in the ribs, he said.

Katula was taken to Central Maine Medical Center, where he was hospitalized, police said.

The front seat passenger got out of the car and stood, telling the others to get back in the vehicle, Katula said. He said a fourth man tried unsuccessfully to pull off his backpack.

Police found no weapon in the car, which had a Minnesota registration. By the time police pulled the car over, Novas De La Cruz had picked up at least two other passengers.


Police said one of the suspects identified the rear passenger as a 16-year-old male who was arrested on a robbery charge and a probation hold. He appeared in 8th District Court in Lewiston on Friday and a hearing was held on the probation violation. He is expected to be formally charged with robbery by the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office at a future juvenile court hearing, prosecutors said.

The man believed to have been riding in the front passenger seat, Maslah Aliyow, 18, of 83 Maple St. was arrested on a robbery charge, but prosecutors didn’t pursue that charge in court on Friday.

Novas De La Cruz was represented in 8th District Court on Friday by defense attorney Allan Lobozzo, who said the defendant has no criminal record, was not accused of carrying a weapon, didn’t initiate the fracas, and doesn’t have the resources to raise the $15,000 cash bail requested by the prosecutor. Lobozzo urged the judge to set bail at $1,000 cash.

But Judge John Beliveau agreed with Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mador and set bail at $15,000, after reviewing the police affidavit and noting the “random selection of the victim” of the attack.

Beliveau ordered that Novas De La Cruz be barred from having a firearm or dangerous weapons and from contacting Katula if he is released on bail.

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