CUSTER COUNTY— Christopher Amos, 30 of Broken Bow, will spend the next 20-30 years in prison after being sentenced by Judge Karin Noakes in Custer County District Court on Thursday, June 13. Amos had previously pled guilty to one count of 1st degree sexual assault of a child (class 1B felony) in March in conjunction with a plea deal, where the second count of 1st degree sexual assault of a child was dropped. On Thursday, Amos appeared in court facing a possible life sentence for the one count of sexual assault.
County Attorney Steve Bowers began sentencing arguments by stating that he believed that Amos was a danger to the community even though his criminal history was minimal with mostly misdemeanors.
Bowers talked about how Amos was unemployed when he began dating the mother of the 12 year old victim and that his “job” was to watch the daughters of the girlfriend. According to Bowers, Amos moved in with the girlfriend with knowledge that the victim was dealing with another alleged sexual assault case.
Bowers continued saying that Amos stated that the victim was seeking him out and was enticing him by texting that she “wanted to prove how much she loved [Amos].” Bowers stated that the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) showed that while Amos admitted his actions, he had no intention of changing his behavior and was likely to commit the offense again. Bowers asked that Amos be sentenced to 30-35 years in prison.
Defense attorney Michael Borders argued that Amos was sorry for what he had done and had also been very cooperative with authorities during the entire investigation. It was also argued that when law enforcement arrived he had admitted to the crime immediately and did not try to run away.
Borders told the court that Amos understood that he would go to prison for 15 years and was willing to serve the sentence for what he had done. Borders asked that court sentence Amos to the mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.
Amos did speak briefly apologizing for his actions saying, “I am very sorry for what happened and hopefully, one day, they will forgive me. That’s all I have to say.”
Judge Noakes sentenced Amos to 20-30 years in prison with a minimum of 17 ½ years before being eligible for parole and a maximum of 22 ½ years before mandatory release. Due to state statute, Amos must serve 15 years minimum before being eligible to earn time for good behavior. He was also given credit for 145 days already served.
54 year old Jane Chestnutt was arraigned in District Court facing charges of 2nd degree arson (class III felony), criminal mischief (class IV felony), and burning to defraud an insurer (class IV felony).
County Attorney Steve Bowers and Chestnutt’s attorney Stephen Potter both told the court that a plea agreement had been reached, but a final number on restitution had not been completed. Chestnutt pled not guilty to the charges and the case was set for a progression conference to take place on June 10 at 10:15 AM.
Shawn Lundry, 41 of Berwyn, was arraigned on one charge of tampering with evidence (class IV felony). Lundry is being accusing of deleting messages on a cell phone that was obtained by law enforcement in a separate investigation. A trial has been set in the case to take place October 15 at 9 AM with a pre-trial conference to be held on September 19.
Dennis Farrell, 38 of Bismarck, ND, has taken a plea deal with the state due to a federal warrant being issued against him out of North Dakota. County Attorney Steve Bowers informed the court that with the plea deal the complaint would be amended to criminal attempt (class IIA felony) due to the federal warrant.
With the agreement Farrell pled guilty to criminal attempt and was sentenced to 250 days in jail and given credit for 250 days already served. Bowers told the court that North Dakota Federal Agents were going to pick up Farrell that afternoon.