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In court: North Platte man convicted of arsonTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Jason Jones
Courtesy Photo­Image
Ryan Gabel
Courtesy Photo­Image
Johnny Rodriguez
Photo by Jay Huff
After the fire on West Third

Jason Jones, 32, of North Platte was convicted Monday of second-degree arson and possession of methamphetamine.

In a plea agreement with the county attorney’s office, Jones pled no contest, while charges of burglary and theft by taking were dropped.

Jones, a former convenience store clerk, caused a garage fire Aug. 27.

Police and firefighters were called around 4 a.m. to the 1700 block of West Third. According to Assistant Fire Chief Dennis Thompson, flames were visible inside the garage when they arrived.

Firefighters got the fire knocked down quickly, but the contents, including a car, were destroyed and the garage building was heavily damaged. Investigators said the fire started when electrical wiring was pulled from an air compressor, causing an arc.

A neighbor reported his car stolen and last saw it speeding down the alley away from the fire. The car was later found in the parking lot of Pacific Place Apartments with several tools in it that belonged to the owner of the burned garage. Residents at the apartments confronted Jones and held him for the police when Jones tried to move the car.

On Monday, a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. When that is complete, Jones will return to court for sentencing. He remains in the county jail on a $12,500 bond.

In other district court action Monday:


Ryan Gabel, 24, of North Platte pleaded not guilty to burglary Monday in Lincoln County District Court. Defense attorney Stephen Potter asked for an OR (own recognizance) bond so Gabel could get enter a treatment facility.

Potter said Gabel would be accepted at Valley Hope in Norton, Kan.

Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling objected to any bond change for treatment. Harling said Gabel has a long history of offenses and court hearings, many of them related to alcohol abuse, and he has been to treatment more than once with no good result.

She said sending Gabel to the Norton facility is not really an acceptable rehab platform.

Lincoln County District Judge Richard Birch agreed. Birch told Potter that if his client could get accepted at a Nebraska facility he would consider an OR bond to attend.

Birch then lowered Gabel’s bond from $100,000 to $50,000. Gabel’s will be back in district court for a status hearing on Feb. 25.

Gabel and David Terry of North Platte were both arrested June 9 for allegedly burglarizing a woman’s apartment in the 2300 block of East E.

Gabel has been jailed at least nine times since February 2010.


Johnny Rodriguez, 26, of North Platte pleaded no contest to assault on a police officer. A charge of disturbing the peace was dropped in a plea agreement with the County Attorney’s Office.

Rodriguez was sentenced to 120 days in the county jail with credit for 41 days already served.

Rodriguez punched a cop outside of Kelsey’s Bar on Nov. 8 when they responded to a disturbance. Officers saw Rodriguez outside the bar yelling at a woman in a car and when they tried to calm him and move him away from her he became aggressive and punched an officer in the face.

Rodriguez has a prior record of disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer.


Stanley Churchwell, of North Platte, pleaded not guilty to three charges of theft by deception and is scheduled for a status hearing on Jan. 28. His bond was lowered from $12,500 to $10,000.

Churchwell was arrested in late September, when residents of the 700 block of North Bryan called police to report people carting off pickup loads of items from a home and yard there.

Police found Churchwell driving the loaded pickup. At the time, police Lt. Steve Reeves said several pickup loads of stolen items were recovered.


Drew Steier, 19, of Evanston, Wyo. appeared with defense attorney Pat Hays to file a motion to suppress evidence. Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands denied the motion saying the preponderance of evidence did not justify any suppression.

Steier is accused in the attempted robbery of the Farmer’s State Bank in Wallace.

The case against Steier’s co-defendant Tracy Black, also of Evanston, was continued to allow for more depositions to be taken by the defense and prosecutors. Black is set to be back in district court on Jan. 28.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 12/18/2012
Copyright © 2012 northplattebulletin.com - All rights reserved.
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