CUSTER COUNTY— It was a very busy day in Custer County District Court on Thursday, December 19 with a mix of criminal and civil cases.
Daniel Haines, 41 of Ansley, was arraigned on three alleged charges including 3rd degree domestic assault (class I misdemeanor), strangulation-2nd offense (class IIA felony), and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (class ID felony).
While Haines pled not guilty to the alleged charges, Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers informed the court that a plea deal was possibly on the way. With the not guilty plea, Judge Karin Noakes set the case for jury trial on February 10, 2020, with a pretrial conference to be held on January 23, 2020, at 10 AM.
Colt Corbin, 23 of Broken Bow, will be headed to prison after his sentencing on Thursday. Corbin had previously been found guilty of possession of a controlled substance (class IV felony) and burglary (class IIA felony). During arguments, Bowers had made the remark that this was a tough case for everyone involved because they were rooting for Corbin to do well in the programs.
Bowers said that Corbin had multiple instances of failing to follow the recommendations of problem-solving court which were there to help him. While Corbin recognized that he had been given numerous chances, he had continued to use alcohol and illegal substances and was not a proper candidate for probation.
Bowers asked that Corbin be sentenced to 2 years in prison for the possession charge and 3-5 years for the burglary charge, both to run concurrently. It was also requested that he be given credit for 100 days already served.
Corbin’s attorney, Michael Borders, asked that his client be sentenced to probation as a lengthy prison sentence would not help. Borders argued that Corbin is young and that mental health issues have cause problems in his decision making. He argued that probation would have the programs needed to address all of the issues and would help him get back on track.
Judge Noakes said that the court had worked with Corbin for a long time and he had continued to fail to comply with the terms. She did not think he was an appropriate candidate for probation and sentenced Corbin to 6-12 months for possession and 1-2 years for burglary to run concurrently, while also given credit for 100 days already served.
Matthew McAlevy, 27 of Merna, will receive no additional jail time after he was sentenced for one count of enticement by electronic device (class IV felony). During McAlevy’s entire court process, the mental state of McAlevy has been called into question. In September, an expert had determined that McAlevy was competent to stand trial, but both Bowers and McAlevy’s attorney, Christopher Wickham, had serious reservations because of the low standard needed to declare someone competent to stand trial.
During sentencing, Bowers said that while McAlevy does understand right and wrong, he operates at a lower mental level. Bowers gave an example that while in jail, another inmate had set McAlevy’s hair on fire and he did nothing to stop it. Bowers stated that the charges appear to be severe, but there is more to it. He asked that McAlevy be sentenced to 264 days in jail, be given credit for 264 days already served, and also that he be ordered to register as a sex offender.
Wickham also asked that McAlevy be sentenced to 264 days in jail and be given credit for 264 days already served. He stated that McAlevy had cooperated fully in the investigation, was not a violent person, and had recognized that what he had done was wrong. He noted that this was an unfortunate situation and that McAlevy would be paying for it for the next 20 years as he would have to register under the sex offender registry.
Judge Noakes also agreed with the recommendation of both parties and sentenced McAlevy to 264 days in jail and be given credit for 264 days already served. He was also ordered to register under the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry.
The final criminal case of the morning was Melody Hardin, 55 of Litchfield. Hardin appeared for sentencing after taking a plea deal in September where she pled no contest to burglary (class IIA felony). During sentencing arguments, Bowers talked about the struggle to get in contact with Hardin for a pre-sentence report as she had multiple missed dates.
Once she had finally appeared to conduct the report, it was recommended that she be sentenced to probation. Bowers noted that he respected the decision to place her on probation as there were mental health problems along with alcohol issues. Bowers hoped that with the programs through probation, Hardin would be able to address these problems. He recommended a probation term of 4 years.
Hardin’s attorney, Michael Borders, also asked for probation as this was her first felony. He also addressed the missed appointment dates stating that Hardin has a son that has severe mental health problems. He noted that she was not missing the appointments just to miss them, but was taking care of her son.
Judge Noakes sentenced Hardin to 4 years of probation.