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Minister recovering from slashing

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
August 25, 2009

A Whitewater minister said Monday he is recuperating after a "troubled" La Grange man to whom he gave a home and guidance allegedly slashed his throat Thursday.


The Rev. Michael L. Obinger, 60, underwent surgery Thursday at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa. He is back at his La Grange Township home and told the Gazette he is doing fine.


"I didn't have any pain after the surgery, and everything seems to be OK," he said.


Obinger was the victim of what Walworth County sheriff's officials are calling an attempted homicide at the home he shared with Martin J. Nelson, 22, at W6577 Kettle Moraine Drive, southeast of Whitewater.


According to the criminal complaint, Obinger said he woke up and found blood on himself from a cut from the left side of his chin down toward his shoulder. Obinger said he looked up and saw Nelson standing over him with a knife, according to the complaint.


Nelson left the home on foot and was captured at a home in Whitewater late Friday morning.


Obinger was treated at Aurora Lakeland Medical Center in Elkhorn and transported with critical injuries to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa.


Obinger said he is a minister at a Whitewater church and he was providing a home and guidance to Nelson.


"He's a kid who's had a terrible past who contacted me about five months ago—because I'm a pastor, because he was looking for some help—that I've tried to give some stability to over the last five months," he said.


Obinger said this was not a domestic violence case, and he is not related to Nelson.


"I don't know why it happened," he added.


In court Monday, Nelson had his bond set at $50,000 cash on the attempted homicide charge. He is to have no contact with Obinger and cannot consume alcohol or possess weapons.


Nelson was charged Friday with two counts of felony bail jumping for allegedly committing a crime and consuming alcohol. Both violate conditions of his bond in a previous case.


The bail-jumping charges stem from a mid-June incident in which Nelson was charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, aggravated battery and disorderly conduct. In that case, Nelson is accused of trying to stab his then-boyfriend, Scott A. Hayes Jr., with a 15-inch dagger at their residence.


He fled the scene but later was stopped by police, according to the criminal complaint. He also was charged with second-offense drunken driving and operating after revocation.


Court records show that Obinger co-signed a cash bond for Nelson at that time. Online court records also indicate Nelson moved in with Obinger in late June, when he changed his address from a home in Whitewater to the La Grange Township residence.


Nelson is due in court again today to have a preliminary hearing scheduled.



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