CUSTER COUNTY— Custer County District Court saw numerous cases ranging from drugs to terroristic threats on Thursday, October 24.
Bryan Baker, 57 of Merna, was arraigned on one charge of 2nd degree assault of an officer that resulted in injury (class II felony). Baker could face a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison if found guilty. While he did plead not guilty to the charge, the court was informed by his attorney, Michael Borders, that there would be a possible plea deal in the works.
Judge Karin Noakes set the case for jury trial on February 10, 2020 at 9 AM, but set a progression conference to take place on November 7 for an update on the possible plea deal.
Marrisa Stephens, 28 of Broken Bow, will now spend time in the North Central Nebraska Problem Solving Court (drug court) after she took a plea deal with the state. Stephens pled guilty to two counts of possession of a controlled substance-methamphetamine (each a class IV felony) and in exchange for the plea, the state agreed to recommend Stephens to drug court. Sentencing will now be deferred following the failure or completion of problem solving court.
Mathew McAlevy, 27 of Merna, will now be facing a lesser charge after taking a plea deal. McAlevy had initially been facing a charge of sexual assault-use of an electronic device (class ID felony) before taking the plea deal which reduced the charge to enticement by electronic device (class IV felony).
At previous hearings, both Custer County Attorney Steve Bowers and McAlevy’s attorney Christopher Wickham had suspicions that there could be some mental health problems and had jointly asked for a competency evaluation. The evaluation did find that McAlevy was competent to stand trial, which had initially been set for February.
After taking the plea deal and pleading guilty to the enticement charge, McAlevy will appear back in court on December 5 at 10 AM for sentencing. He could face a maximum sentence of two years in prison along with twelve months post release supervision, a $10,000 fine, or both.
Tausha Gray, 32 of Merna, will be headed to the Nebraska Department of Corrections after she was sentenced on Thursday for multiple probation violations. Gray had been placed on probation after being found guilty of two counts of possession of a controlled substance (class IV felony).
The state, represented by Kayla Clark, argued that the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) showed that Gray was very likely to commit the crimes again and commit more probation violations. Clark noted that she was not suitable to go back on probation and asked that Gray be sentenced to one to two years in prison for each charge of possession of a controlled substance.
Gray’s attorney, Michael Borders, argued that he believed Gray has the problem corrected this time and that probation would be appropriate as she is also set to go to transitional housing. Judge Noakes disagreed that probation would be appropriate and sentenced Gray to one year in prison for each count of possession and also gave her credit for 187 days already served.
Lindsey Trosper, 25 of Fairmont, has taken a plea deal and has been sentenced to one year in prison after being found guilty of criminal attempt (class IIIA felony) for taking significant steps toward the possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. Through the plea deal, Trosper’s sentence is to run concurrent with her 4-6 year sentence out of Fillmore County. Trosper informed the court that while she had made mistakes she is trying to turn her life around by attempting to work on getting her high school diploma while incarcerated.
Brice Carpenter, 24 of Anselmo, will be headed to the Nebraska Department of Corrections after he was sentence to two years in prison. Carpenter, had been found guilty previously of theft by unlawful taking (class IV felony) and terroristic threats (class IIIA felony).
During arguments, Clark noted that while Carpenter asked for probation, she does not think he qualifies as he has not showed much remorse, took a swing at a jailer in Valley County, tried to light an inmate’s hair on fire, and believes law enforcement is out to get him. She asked that he be sentenced to one to two years for the theft and two to three years for the terroristic threats.
Carpenter’s attorney, Christopher Wickham, asked that Carpenter be sentenced to probation as he has had no violent convictions and may also have some mental health issues. Wickham noted that when Carpenter fails to take his medication he self-medicates with marijuana and other illegal drugs.
Wickham also told the court he believed that Carpenter could get the help he needed if placed on probation, but also said that if the court did not believe he was suitable for probation, to sentence him to 1-2 years.
Judge Noakes sentenced Carpenter to the Nebraska Department of Corrections for one year for the theft and one year for the terroristic threats which are to be served concurrently. He was also given credit for 129 days already served.