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Van Horn sentenced to 8 years, or moreTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Steven Van Horn
Courtesy Photo­Image
Drew A. Steier
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Robert D. Woodward
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Rosendo D. Duran
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Jonathon D. Knepp

Cases involving weapons, a sex assault, drugs and an attempted bank robbery made for a busy day Monday in Lincoln County District Court.

Stephen Clark Van Horn, 64, of North Platte was sentenced to terms in the penitentiary of 3-5 years for false imprisonment and 5-10 years for use of a firearm to commit a felony.

Lincoln County District Judge Richard Birch ordered the sentences to run consecutive so Van Horn will serve 8-15 years.

Van Horn was originally charged after he held a gun to an assistant manager at Buffalo Bill Manor in September 2011. He was initially charged with attempted murder, carrying a concealed weapon, terroristic threats and strangulation, all of which were dropped in a plea agreement. Van Horn pleaded no contest in August to false imprisonment and use of a firearm.

The former assistant manager at Buffalo Bill Manor, Jeannie Claypool, said Van Horn got into an elevator with her, choked her and held a gun at her abdomen and throat. She said he pulled the trigger but for some reason the gun did not fire. Van Horn left the building. Claypool called 911 and police found Van Horn pulling his car into the manor parking lot. He was carrying a .32 hand gun in his pocket. At that time he claimed to be innocent and said he didn’t know what the charges were all about.

Police said the threats could have been the result of a simmering disagreement between Claypool and Van Horn. At a court hearing, Claypool said Van Horn had threatened to kill her several times.

Known as a mild-mannered man, the disturbance stunned residents and management at the normally peaceful high-rise apartment building.

“We never have had a problem since I’ve been involved,” property manager Rob Stefka said when Van Horn was arrested. “This is far afield from the norm.”

Stefka has managed Buffalo Bill Manor and the companion building South Oak Manor for nearly 20 years.

Robbery suspect

Drew A. Steier, of Evanston Wyo. was arraigned on a charge of attempted robbery, and he pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Pat Hays requested a status hearing and asked for a bond reduction.

Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling objected to a reduced bond because “Steier is from Wyoming and has no toes to this area. That makes him a flight risk.”

Rowlands granted the status hearing and denied bond reduction, leaving it at $125,000. Steier will remain in the county jail and return to district court for a status hearing on Nov. 5.

His bond has been lowered once from $250,000.

Steier was arrested with Tracy Neal Black on Aug. 13 and charged with the robbery of the Farmers State Bank In Wallace. Steier allegedly went into the bank with a handgun, waved it around and demanded money, but didn’t get any. Tellers told him the money was locked up and they couldn’t get to it.

Tracy Black waited outside the bank in the getaway vehicle. About an hour later, the two men were taken into custody without trouble after their vehicle was stopped about a mile north of Imperial on Nebraska Highway 61.


Robert Daniel Woodward, 39, of North Platte was sentenced to 207 days jail with 207 days credit for third degree domestic assault.

But Woodward was also ordered to serve one-and-a-half to 3 years in the state penitentiary for probation violation.

Woodward was arrested March 28 and charged with second-offense domestic assault and child abuse. He was on probation at the time, according to sheriff’s records.

Defense attorney Stephen Potter asked for a long county jail sentence.

“Roberts’s record justifies extensive jail time and not time in the pen,” Potter said.

Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling asked for penitentiary time, noting that “Woodward was already on probation for child abuse when he picked up these charges.”

Prior to sentencing, Rowlands told Woodward, “Your record shows numerous convictions for assaults, child abuse and alcohol problems.”

Cell phone bandit

Rosendo Duran, 20, of North Platte was sentenced to 180 days in county jail with credit for 79 days. Charged with theft by taking, Duran pled guilty to stealing three cell phones from a Viaero Wireless kiosk in the Platt River Mall on July 20.

The manager told police that Duran had visited the store several times and had taken particular interest in one of the phones that was missing. Duran was picked up later that day driving around Allura Gardens apartments on D St. His driver’s license was under suspension. He tried to run but was caught.

Police found two of the three phones at a home in the 100 block of S. Walnut. By the time of a court hearing in August, the third phone was recovered.

Initially charged with DUS, theft and obstructing a police officer, charges against Duran were bargained to theft by taking, a felony.

At sentencing. Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands told Duran “you need to show signs of making some drastic changes in your lifestyle. You have a long list of convictions.”

Duran has been jailed seven times in Lincoln County since March 2010, when he was arrested for failure to appear on juvenile charges.

Failure to register

Jon Knepp of Tryon was sentenced to 90 days jail with 10 days credit for failure to register as a sex offender. Knepp was convicted of sexual assault in 1997. On Jan. 1, he failed to register as required and was arrested June 28.

District Judge Donald Rowlands allowed him two weeks to get his cattle taken care of before reporting to the jail.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 10/15/2012
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