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North Platte man sent to prison in sex abuse case
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North Platte man sent to prison in sex abuse case

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gavel and justice scales

A 51-year-old North Platte man was sentenced Monday to three years in state prison for sexually abusing a female victim.

James J. Dowling, who appeared in Lincoln County District Court, must register as a sex offender and will serve nine months of post-release supervision.

Dowling pleaded no contest to two charges Feb. 22. The two three-year prison terms will run at the same time.

He initially was charged with six felonies, but four were dismissed in a plea agreement.

Dowling, who was arrested Aug. 11, was credited with 238 days served.

According to court records, the incidents happened over a span of nearly 15 years.

Deputy County Attorney Tanya Roberts-Connick called it a “really sad case” that has left the victim with psychological trauma.

Judge Richard Birch said that while Dowling had no previous criminal history and scored low in several areas in a pre-sentence investigation, anything short of a prison term would not address the serious nature of the offense and the impact on the victim.

Before he was sentenced, Dowling addressed the court and said he took responsibility for his actions and for the individuals he had hurt as a result.

In a different case, Fred F. Vieyra, 78, who is charged with first-degree sexual assault of a female victim, initially had been scheduled to make a court appearance Monday as well. Instead, Birch accepted a written not-guilty plea Thursday that was made on behalf of Vieyra by his attorney, Martin Troshynski.

A June 7 status hearing was scheduled.

Also Monday, Daniel M. Swanson, 34, of Wallace, pleaded not guilty of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and attempted first-degree murder for an alleged stabbing Feb. 21.

Both charges were filed as Class 2 felonies, which carry a maximum prison term of 50 years in Nebraska. A June 7 status hearing was scheduled.

The victim was flown to Great Plains Health with a chest wound and later to Bryan Medical Center’s west campus in Lincoln, according to court records.

In other cases Monday (defendants are from North Platte unless otherwise noted):

» Brayden J. Divine, 22, one of three individuals charged in a Dec. 26 shooting at an East Philip Avenue residence, made an initial appearance.

Divine pleaded not guilty of using a firearm to commit a felony, discharging a firearm near a vehicle or a building, and first-degree assault.

A June 7 status hearing was scheduled.

» Jerry L. Hendon, 37, pleaded guilty to charges in two cases.

Hendon pleaded guilty to a felony count of receiving stolen property, value $500 or less, in a July 30 incident.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine in a Dec. 23, 2019, incident.

A third, separate case was dismissed in the plea agreement.

Hendon was sentenced to 364 days in jail for the two cases, and the sentences will run at the same time.

He was credited with 316 days served.

» Amanda R. Stene, 34, of Lodgepole, was sentenced to 135 days in jail for driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher and a prior conviction.

The charge stems from a Oct. 10 incident. Stene pleaded guilty March 8.

Stene was credited with 42 days served and her license will be suspended for 18 months as well.

» Ryan G. Tilley, 36, of Kearney, pleaded guilty to an amended count of possession of a concealed weapon and obstructing an officer.

Both charges stem from a Feb. 24 incident.

Tilley was sentenced to 90 days in jail on each of the misdemeanor counts and the terms run at the same time.

He was credited with 39 days served.

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» Steven R. Gastineau, 35, pleaded no contest to an amended count of attempted possession of methamphetamine on Jan. 21.

Gastineau was sentenced to 90 days in jail and credited with 55 days served.

» Joshua A. Richards, 32, pleaded no contest to an amended charged of attempted failure to register as a sex offender.

Richards was sentenced to 90 days in jail and credited with 75 days served.

» Amanda M Vanlengen, 30, was sentenced to 24 months of specialized substance abuse supervision for second-degree assault in a Nov. 11 incident. Vanlengen pleaded no contest Feb. 8.

» Richard Merchant, 21, of Goddard, Kansas, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of third-degree domestic assault that stems from a July 5 incident.

A count of assault by strangulation or suffocation was dismissed in the plea agreement.

Merchant received 12 months of probation.

» Amy Becenti, 38, pleaded guilty to a felony count of criminal impersonation after a Feb. 14 incident.

Three misdemeanor charges were dismissed in the plea agreement.

Sentencing in court has been deferred as Becenti has been accepted into the state’s problem-solving court system.

» Jarred P. Shah, 35, pleaded no contest to a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in two cases that stem from incidents on Dec. 9 and Dec. 17, 2019.

Charges in three additional cases were dismissed in the plea agreement.

Shah is scheduled to be sentenced May 17.

» Timothy D. Johnson, 30, pleaded no contest to multiple counts over two cases that stem from a traffic stop Sept. 14.

Johnson pleaded no contest to possession of Valium and possession of Suboxone in one case. A count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person was dismissed in the plea agreement.

Johnson also pleaded no contest to possession of a stolen firearm in a separate case.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in both cases June 7.

» Veronica H. Carrizales, 35, pleaded not guilty to a charge of criminal impersonation that stems from a Jan. 26 incident. A May 17 status hearing was scheduled.

» Marshall C. Laws, 51, of Denver, pleaded not guilty of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of more than a pound of marijuana.

The charges stem from a Oct. 28 traffic stop on Interstate 80 near mile marker 195.

A June 21 status hearing was scheduled.

» Joseph Egner, 48, pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of assault by strangulation or suffocation and a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault causing bodily injury.

The charges stem from a Dec. 15 incident.

A May 17 status hearing was scheduled.

» Kevin Taylor, 45, pleaded not guilty to felony counts of theft of services, value $1,500-$4,999, and possession of 28 to 139 grams of methamphetamine.

Both charges stem from a Feb. 23 incident.

A May 3 status hearing was scheduled.

» Tara K. Baker, 37, pleaded not guilty to a charge of resisting arrest, second offense, that stems from a Feb. 10 incident.

A June 15 status hearing was scheduled. A jury trial was also set the same day for a separate case in which Baker is charged with making terroristic threats in a Sept. 15 incident.


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