Stunkel Trial Concludes With A Dismissal, Not Guilty Ruling, And Guilty Ruling

CUSTER COUNTY— Custer County Supervisor Doug Stunkel made his appearance in Custer County Court for a bench trial concerning three alleged charges including fictitious plates, no proof of insurance, and operating a motor vehicle without registration.

At the start of the trial on Friday, November 1, the state, represented by special prosecutor Shawn Eatherton, informed the court that they would be dismissing the fictitious plates charge as the evidence did not support the complaint.

To begin the trial, Eatherton called Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Alex Coffman to the stand to testify concerning the traffic stop where the insurance and registration were not presented.

Trooper Coffman testified that he had pulled over Stunkel after observing him drive on the shoulder of the road. During the encounter, Stunkel did not have insurance or a valid registration to present to Trooper Coffman. As a result, Stunkel was issued a citation for the violations.

Following Trooper Coffman’s testimony, Stunkel submitted evidence of valid insurance and dealer registration to the court and then testified on his own behalf. After Stunkel read from a prepared document of information that was deemed irrelevant to the case, Stunkel informed the court that he has liability insurance on all of the dealership vehicles that belong to 542 Motors. He also claimed during testimony that the plate was put onto the vehicle he was driving by someone else and he was unaware that the plate was invalid.

Based on the evidence, Judge Jeffery Wightman, ruled that the state had not met the burden of proof and found Stunkel not guilty of no proof of insurance, but he did find Stunkel guilty of operating a motor vehicle without registration. Judge Wightman elected not to enforce the possible fine and sentenced Stunkel to pay court costs of $51.