Tim Leeper, convicted of helping steal a truckload of items from the home of a North Platte who had died a few days earlier, was sentenced Monday to 3-5 years in prison.Leeper was part of a group that stole a car, cash and other items Feb. 25 from an empty home north of town.
The owner of the house died a week earlier. A neighbor looked in on the place and found the front door broken and property missing, so he called 911.
With the help of other law enforcement agencies, several search warrants were served Feb. 28 at North Platte homes. Most of the stolen property was recovered, including the caras well as a large amount of cash, the sheriff said.
Leeper was already facing charges of possession of a controlled substance, theft, possession of a firearm during a drug violation and possession of a stolen firearm, with additional charges pending of shoplifting and criminal mischief.
“The man’s daughter has had to deal with all this,” County Attorney Rebecca Harling said as she asked for a prison sentence.
Harling said a massive amount of property was stolen. Reportedly, enough was recovered to fill a large pickup trailer. The sole purpose of the theft was to sell the goods for drug money, Harling said.
Defense Attorney Marty Troshynski noted that Leeper voluntarily pled to the charges, his prior record is not extensive and a pre-sentence investigation recommended probation. He said Leeper is serious about changing his life.
Birch agreed that Leeper’s prior record didn’t amount to much, but said “this is serious,” and then handed down the sentence.
Co-defendant Brian Spotts was not sentenced Monday. His case was continued until June 23.
In other court action Monday, William Theus was sentenced to 1 ½ to 3 years imprisonment. He was convicted of violating probation as well as possession of methamphetamines with intent to deliver.
Theus was arrested around 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 15, when police found his Explorer parked in the middle of the First National Bank parking lot. Witnesses saw his SUV run over a curb and struggle to get parked.
Theus was apparently under the influence of drugs at the time, police said. A search turned up a glass pipe that contained white meth residue as well as .22 caliber rifle.
He was on probation at the time after he allegedly drove off with $66 worth of gasoline. His record goes back to 2012, when he was convicted of assaulting a middle-aged couple.
Defense attorney Robert Lindemeier noted the amount stolen was very small, and Theus violated probation because he lost his ongoing struggle with addiction while he was in an outpatient program.
“Unfortunately, there is no treatment in jail,” Lindemeier said. “He would like a chance to continue on probation.”
“You have taken responsibility,” Birch told him. “Unfortunately, you had things to take responsibility for.”
Theus received credit for time served – 145 days on the oldest charge.
Timothy Moore was sentenced to up to 3 years in prison for his fourth offense of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Deputy County Attorney Austin Leighty recommended a straight prison sentence.
Lindemeier noted his client has been in jail for 190 days and asked for probation.
“Our prisons are full of non-violent offenders,” Lindemeier said. “If he is sentenced according to the pre-sentence recommendation, he will only serve a few months more. He wants to go to Kansas City, where his family lives.”
Moore said his mother was in poor health and he wants to go to Kansas City to take care of her.
Birch said Moore is on the right road, “but these are serious matters. If you keep doing what you’ve done you are probably going to kill some people.”
Jeffery Manary was released from jail after he was sentenced to the 180 days he’s spent behind bars since January.
Manary was accused of assault and strangulation. A 48-year-old man said Manary grabbed him by the throat and choked him on Jan. 30 downtown at an AA meeting.
Manary was on parole from prison at the time for meth distribution for his role in the death of a North Platte woman, Esther Smith, who overdosed in 2011.
But Lindemeier entered letters into evidence, and raised legitimate questions about the accusation. He said the alleged victim was drunk and that Manary pushed him into a chair.
Harling, who once considered pressing charges against Manary as a habitual criminal, did not object to Lindemeier’s request for a sentence of “time served.” Manary made no comment and Birch agreed, handing down two concurrent 180-day sentences.
Shane Melton was sent to the pen for up to 4 years for drug possession and leaving the scene of an injury accident.
Melton, 26, was wanted for leaving the scene of an injury accident on Aug. 12, 2012 in the 1200 block of N. Buffalo Bill Ave. He failed to appear in court and was arrested again a month later, riding in a stolen car. Police found several controlled substances inside the car.
Prosecutors asked for prison time.
County Attorney Rebecca Harling said the victim of the injury accident had substantial medical bills to pay, and has been interested “in every step” as the case has progressed.
Defense attorney Marty Troshynski said he had not seen evidence that the injuries were severe, He said, “obviously, there were some addiction issues involved here.”
Before sentencing, Melton told Rowlands that he didn’t show up in court the first time in court because he lost track of the situation when public defender Pat Hayes retired.
After some lengthy calculations of the time Melton spent in jail, he received credit for 74 days served.
Matthew Clinton, 19, will serve a year and a half up to three years in the state penitentiary for unauthorized use of a credit card and theft by taking.
Clinton charged fuel on a credit card in August that was stolen from his employer, Twin Rivers Testing.
The company noticed several unauthorized charges and cancelled the card, but Clinton apparently used a key to the office to steal another card. He stopped coming to work altogether in mid-September and was fired. He was caught when he came to pick up his final paycheck.
Clinton was also implicated with Hollis Littlefield in theft of items in February from vehicles parked at DJ Transmission and Automotive, as well as outdoor sports equipment from a pickup parked at the Game and Parks headquarters in North Platte.
In court, Clinton apologized to the people he stole from and hoped they will forgive him.
Your prior record is not significant, but the presentence investigation is not favorable,” Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowland said.
Clinton violated probation in the past for criminal mischief in Red Willow County.
He received credit for 253 days he’s served in jail.
Hollis Littlefield was sentenced to a year and two-thirds to up to four years in prison.
Troshynski entered letters into evidence from a neighbor, from Lutheran Family Services and the probation office.
Hollis Littlefield, 35, was convicted in April of possession of a stolen firearm, theft by taking and criminal mischief – part of a lengthy record of theft and drug crimes.
Littlefield, along with Matthew Clinton, stole items from vehicles in the parking lot of DJ Automotive and Transmission, and later swiped firearms, golf clubs, fishing poles and knives from a pickup parked at the Game and Parks headquarters on E. State Farm Road.
He has been jailed since Feb. 5.
Troshynski said Littlefield’s been struggling with his habit and is showing progress. He said his client also recently lost his house to a fire.
Rowlands read aloud Littlefield’s history of crimes, including two prison terms of 13 months and 22 months for burglary, as well as signs of meth addiction that go back to 2000.
“I hope you are getting your life turned around,” Rowlands said. “You could be considered an habitual criminal and face a mandatory 10 years.”
Thomas Barnes was sentenced to just one year in jail for third-degree sexual assault.
He will register as a sex offender for at least the next 15 years.
You are very fortunate your attorney (Kent Florom) was able to plea down your charge,” Rowlands told him. “Otherwise you would be on your way to the penitentiary.”
Barnes received credit for the 187 days he’s already spent in jail since he was arrested Dec. 5.