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County court: Charges dismissed against North Platte manTell North Platte what you think
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Michael Haworth

After testimony from both sides Thursday, charges were dropped against Michael Haworth, 25, who was accused of threatening two North Platte men with a knife.

Haworth appeared in Lincoln County Court for a preliminary hearing on on the charges -- terroristic threats and use of a weapon to commit a felony.

North Platte Police Officer Troy Erickson was the first to testify.

Under questioning from prosecutor Austen Leighty, Erickson said that two men, Scott Shoemaker and Jonathan Walker, came to the North Platte Public Safety Building around 9:20 a.m. Oct. 15 and said their roommate, Haworth, assaulted them and threatened them with a knife.

They said Haworth threatened to attack them in their sleep and hurt their kids, too.

Erickson said the men reported that Haworth was very intoxicated around 6 a.m. that morning and when they tried to calm him down and get him to shut up, Haworth assaulted them, even holding a knife to Walker’s throat.

Shoemaker showed police a red spot on his arm and claimed it was also from the knife.

Erickson said the two men told him they feared for their lives.

Erickson said officers went to the residence -- room 238 of the Country Inn – and arrested Haworth with no resistance. Erickson said the knife was a kitchen steak knife. Police found it hidden inside a roll of paper towels.

Then it was the defense’s turn. Defense attorney Pat Hays called Jessica Castor to the stand, a woman who said she was spending the night with Haworth and was there throughout the incident.

Castor told the court that Walker, not Haworth, was the first to use the knife. She said at one point Walker was heading to another of the motel rooms, saying he was going to “kill those dudes,” referring to guys who called her names earlier.

Instead of threatening Walker with the knife, Castor said Haworth actually took the knife away from him.

Castor said then she took it from Haworth and hid it in the paper towels.

When asked about the fight, Castor said it happened real fast and at one time Walker had Haworth in a choke hold.

Castor said she did not see the knife during the fight, but the way they were fighting, Shoemaker’s arm must have hit something, causing the red mark.

Erickson testified that the skin on Shoemaker’s arm was not broken; it just had a red mark about a half-inch long.

“If the fight happened around 6 a.m. and the two men were afraid for their lives, why did they wait to report it until nearly four hours later?” Hays asked Castor.

Castor said Walker was having problems with bronchitis and coughing up blood so Shoemaker took him to the hospital. After that, the two went to the police station to make the report.

In closing remarks, Leighty said Walker is now trying to recant his part of the story, but the presence of the knife, a dangerous weapon, was enough to send the case to district court.

Leighty also tried to place doubt on the credibility of the defense witness, Castor.

“Nice try Mr. Leighty, but this hearing is not to decide whether or not to send anything to district court," Lincoln County Court Judge Kent Turnbull told him. “It is only to decide if a crime has actually been committed. I know Miss Castor and I believe she is telling the truth.”

Turnbull ruled there was not enough evidence to prove a crime had been committed and he dismissed the charges.

Haworth got out of jail after serving 23 days, waiting for his day in court.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 11/7/2013
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