Whoa. Let me try to figure this out. Dad STEPHAN COBENAIS had a "violent history," yet he some how gets custody of his infant son. Dad then loses custody--how or why is not specified, nor to whom he lost custody--so he goes bonkers and allegedly shoots a man. Why he shot the man is not explained either, nor whether it had anything to do with the custody issue. (The article below the one that follows explains some of that, something about a party where the victim allegedly made a remark about Dad losing custody.) Then Dad embarks on a 6-hour standoff with the local police SWAT team.
How the hell did a guy this volatile get custody to start with, and who made that decision?
And where is the mother?
Duluth Homicide Ends With Standoff
A Duluth homicide suspect has surrendered after a nearly 6-hour standoff with a police swat team. 24-year-old Stephan Cobenais came out of the home on 6th Avenue East and 6th Street around 3:20, Wednesday afternoon.
Cobenais was wanted for the early morning shooting death of 31-year-old Mario Demond Highler. Police say Highler died from a single gunshot to the head, at Cobenais' home at 3932 Grand Avenue. Jenell Sherman was visiting a friend who lives next door, when she heard a woman yell, "no, don't do it," followed by a gunshot. She then called 911. Police say it's unclear how well Cobenais and Highler knew each other. Sherman says she knew Highler and to her knowledge, he had never been to that apartment before. "Very nice guy, quiet, he's never even been here. One of the girls across the hall brought him here for the first time," said Sherman.
Some time after the shooting, police say the suspect fled to the home on East 6th Street. Swat teams surrounded the house and negotiated with Cobenais until about 3:20 this afternoon, when he was taken into custody. Police say he has a violent history. Cobenais' mother says he recently turned his life around to care for his 8-month-old son, who was recently taken from his custody. She thinks the shooting stemmed from troubles with getting his son back. "He didn't think he would be able to get his baby back. He said if he didn't get his baby back he'd end the world he'd end his life," said Cheryl Cobenais.
Police will not say if they have recovered the weapon used in the homicide, or if the suspect had a weapon inside the home where the standoff happened.
Cobenais Charged With Murder
Court documents show the suspect in Wednesday's murder pulled the trigger because he was angry about his son. According to a female witness, things escalated after the victim allegedly said something about Stephen Cobenais Sr.'s young son. Cobenais has been charged with two counts-- 2nd Degree Murder and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Cobanais, 24, is accused of fatally shooting Mario Highler, 31, just after 1:00AM Wednesday morning.
Court papers filed Thursday,shed some light on the hours that may have lead up to the alleged crime. According to the criminal complaint- on Tuesday of this week, Cobenais learned that his son had been removed from his care. That night, the document said, the victim and three women were "partying" in Cobenais' one room-apartment on Grand Avenue. One of the women told officers she heard the suspect say to the victim, "you better not say anything about my son again."
The woman said the victim responded, "get that gun out of my face," just a few minutes before she heard a shot. The suspect then told the three women to leave the apartment. When police arrived, they found Highler dead-- the victim of a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.
As Eyewitness News has reported, that morning police tracked Cobenais to a home belonging to his aunt on East 6th Street. He engaged officers in a tense standoff that lasted nearly six hours before finally coming out.
According to prosecuting attorney Leslie Beiers, police recovered a loaded handgun from that home. Beiers identified the accused as a serious risk to the community. Bail has been set for $750,000. Cobenais is scheduled to appear in court again, on September 16th.