Bowers And Stunkel Make Appearances In Custer County Court

CUSTER COUNTY— Custer County Supervisor Doug Stunkel appeared in Custer County Court on Friday, October 4 facing three misdemeanor charges as well as a traffic ticket.

Presiding County Judge Jeffrey Wightman began court by reading the alleged charges to Stunkel, which include fictitious plates (class III misdemeanor), no proof of insurance (class II misdemeanor), and operation of a motor vehicle without registration (class III misdemeanor).

Judge Wightman informed Stunkel that if he was found guilty of no proof of insurance his driver’s license could be suspended. If found guilty of all charges, Stunkel could face up to a year in prison and up to $2,000 in fines. While a jail sentence is possible, Special Prosecutor Shawn Eatherton, indicated that he would not be seeking jail time.

Stunkel did elect to represent himself in the case and he also refused to enter a plea to any of the charges. Following his refusal to enter a plea, the court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. A trial on the charges has been scheduled to take place on November 1 at 10 AM.

A quick trial to the court took place on a traffic ticket where Stunkel was eventually found guilty after Special Prosecutor Eatherton had Trooper Alex Coffman testify. Trooper Coffman testified that he had pulled over Stunkel after he had been observed speeding between Ansley and Broken Bow traveling 81 mph in a 65 mph zone.

Stunkel did not question Trooper Coffman and also did not offer any evidence or witnesses on his behalf and through the testimony of Trooper Coffman, Judge Wightman found Stunkel guilty of speeding. Stunkel was sentenced to pay the speeding fine of $125 and court costs of $49 to be paid by November 1.

Also appearing in Custer County Court was Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers as he is facing charges of official misconduct (class II misdemeanor), obstructing government operations (class I misdemeanor), and oppression under color of office (class II misdemeanor). Bowers could face up to two years in jail and be fined up to $3,000 if found guilty of all charges.

The new charges were filed after Bowers and his attorney, Michael Borders, filed documents to attempt to dismiss the initial charge that was filed in August. After Judge Wightman reviewed the submissions, it was found that the actions of Bowers did not constitute an offense which is punishable by law, according to court documents. Following the ruling, the seconded amended complaint was filed by the Attorney General’s Office alleging the above charges.

A progression conference/entry of a plea hearing was scheduled to take place on November 1 at 11 AM, with the understanding that the date could change depending on motions that could be filed and any other complications.