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By Archie Ingersoll, Published July 14 2009

Bail set for Gilby bank robbery suspect

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Bail was set at $70,000 Monday for a man authorities suspect may have been involved in a bank robbery in Gilby.

Clifton Patterson, 63, appeared in state District Court via interactive television on charges of theft and unauthorized use of a 2008 Jeep Compass, a sport utility vehicle investigators believe was used in the May 26 robbery at the small-town bank.

Patterson was in court Friday, but did not cooperate with Judge Karen Braaten, giving odd answers to her questions and making bizarre inquiries. Braaten rescheduled the appearance so Patterson could be represented by an attorney.

Despite the delay, Monday was more of the same. Patterson spoke quietly to no one in particular throughout the hearing and occasionally rocked side-to-side or back-and-forth.

The judge asked Patterson if he understood his rights and the charges against him, but he did not receive a coherent response.

Public defender Rebecca McGurran said that, after meeting with Patterson at the jail, she was unable to determine if he understands the charges or how he wants to proceed with the case.

“He has been able to respond to some of the questions that I have had, but many of the questions he has responded in ways that … do not make sense,” McGurran said.

On Friday, State’s Attorney Peter Welte said it’s the prosecution’s position that Patterson is trying to be released so he can receive a psychological evaluation. Welte said Patterson has a past record of armed robberies and other crimes.

Prosecutor Chris Griffin requested Monday that Patterson be held without bail, saying that, if released, he would pose a flight risk and endanger the community.

Patterson, who had been living in Grand Forks, was arrested in Mississippi last month and held there until he was transferred to the Grand Forks County jail last week.

Two robbers appeared in surveillance stills captured during the Gilby heist in which more than $50,000 was stolen.

So far, Patterson has been the sole person of interest specified publicly by investigators. He has not been charged in the robbery itself.

Patterson has a preliminary hearing set for Aug. 12.

The Grand Forks Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.