Woman Who Set Fire To Jim’s Bar In Arnold Sentenced To Probation

Woman Who Set Fire To Jim’s Bar In Arnold Sentenced To Probation
Jane Chestnutt stands for sentencing on Thursday, August 22

CUSTER COUNTY— The former Jim’s Bar General Manager who started the fire that burned down the bar in 2018, will now begin her probation after taking a plea deal with the state.

Jane Chestnutt, 54, appeared in Custer County District Court on Thursday, August 22 for sentencing having pled guilty to criminal attempt (class IV felony) and criminal mischief (class IV felony). In exchange for her guilty pleas, the state, represented by Custer County Attorney Steven Bowers, agreed to recommend probation.

During sentencing, both Bowers and Chestnutt’s attorney, Stephen Potter, agreed that Chestnutt had been struggling in taking responsibility for the incident, but were hopeful that probation programs would help her take responsibility.

Chestnutt did speak briefly to the court apologizing to the people of Arnold and said she hopes everything works out.

Judge Karin Noakes did follow the plea agreement and sentenced Chestnutt to five years of probation while also being required to pay restitution in the amount of $5,861.07.

Lavern Burnett, 65 of Broken Bow, appeared in court for his arraignment where he is accused of three counts of alleged 2nd degree sexual assault of a child (each a class II felony) and three counts of alleged child abuse (each a class IIIA felony).

According to the complaint, on three separate dates from 2018 to 2019, Burnett did subject another person under the age of 14 to sexual contact that resulted in serious personal injury. The complaint also states that Burnett knowingly, intentionally, or negligently allowed the minor child to be placed in a situation to be sexually abused. If found guilty of all six charges, Burnett could be sentenced to prison for up to 159 years.

Burnett pled not guilty to all six charges and his case has now been scheduled for jury trial to take place on October 15 at 9 AM with a pretrial conference to be held on September 19 at 10 AM.

Brice Carpenter, 24 of Anselmo, was arraigned on Thursday where he is facing charges of alleged burglary (class IIA felony), terroristic threats (class IIIA felony), and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (class ID felony). Carpenter pled not guilty to the charges and his case was set for jury trial to begin on October 15 at 9 AM with a pre-trial conference to be held on September 19 at 10 AM. If convicted of all charges, Carpenter could face 3-73 years in prison.

Carpenter also asked for a bond reduction where it was stated by his attorney, James Duncan, that if he could be released on a personal recognizance bond he would have a job and a place to live in Custer County. Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers informed the court that this was the same story that was told in Custer County Court and the bond had already been reduced from 10% of $50,000 to 10% of $25,000.

Bowers also told the court that Carpenter had been previously sentenced to prison and approximately a year after he was released was arrested for the current charges. Bowers argued that the bond amount was appropriate due to the circumstances not changing and also believing that Carpenter was a danger to the community. Judge Noakes agreed and kept the bond the same at 10% of $25,000.

Robyn Frawley, 28 of Broken Bow, was back in court only a few days after her case was bound over from county court to district court. Frawley pled not guilty to one count of alleged possession of a controlled substance to wit methamphetamine (class IV felony) and her case was set for jury trial on October 15 at 9 AM with a pretrial conference to take place on September 19 at 10 AM.

David Skeels, 67 of Ansley, could spend up to 43 years in prison if he is found guilty of four different charges stemming from the deadly accident that killed a South Dakota man on October 23, 2018. Skeels is being accused of motor vehicular homicide (class IIIA felony), two counts of second degree assault (each a class IIA felony), and reckless driving (class III misdemeanor).

Skeels was driving a semi and grain trailer east on Cumro Road, south of Ansley and impacted the side of a pickup that was traveling south on NE Highway 183.

The semi impacted passenger side of the pickup at the intersection killing the passenger instantly and sending the driver to the hospital in Kearney. Skeels was also transported by ambulance to Jennie M. Melham Memorial Medical Center.

Skeels pled not guilty to all four alleged charges and his case was set for jury trial to commence on October 15 at 9 AM with a pretrial conference to occur on September 19 at 10 AM.