November 24, 2014

Former foster father sentenced to 95 years for abusing children

A former foster father from Hooper has been sentenced to nearly 100 years in prison for sexually assaulting a child in his home.

49-year-old Michael Rice had initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea to no contest in exchange for prosecutors dropping nine other sex-related charges.

An investigation of Rice began in 2013, after allegations arose that he assaulting a young girl. Prosecutors contend the assaults began in 1998. Rice and his former wife cared for a number of foster children in their home. No charges have been filed against his former wife.

Prosecutor Oliver Glass read statements from the victims, including one in which the victim stated, “The damage caused is immeasurable.” A victim said, “He ruined my life.”

Connie Green, KHUB, contributed to this story.

Two injured in Omaha home invasion

Six west-central Omaha residents are recovering from a home invasion overnight. Omaha Police Department Public Information Officer Michael Pecha says officers arrived around 6 am to find those inside woke up in the middle of the night to find three masked men had kicked down their door.

Officer Pecha says all the residents were tied up and the suspects ransacked the house. They loaded items, including guns, into a van belonging to one of the residents and then took off.

One of the victims was struck on the head and was taken to a hospital for treatment and another victim was assaulted.  Officer Pecha says the residents did not know the suspects and the investigation continues.

ACLU seeks to overturn Nebraska ban on same-sex marriage

gavel thumbnailSeven same-sex couples have filed a lawsuit, seeking to overturn the state definition of marriage.

Nebraska American Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Amy Miller says the time is right to challenge Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“I really do think Nebraska is ready for this step,” Miller tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “The climate here has changed. Our clients, even in some small towns in Nebraska, tell us that they’re welcomed by their neighbors. They’re out and proud at work. It’s a very different climate.”

The ACLU filed a similar lawsuit in 2003. A federal judge struck down the law, but a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the judge.

Governor-elect Pete Ricketts says the state will defend the law.

“Our citizens have overwhelmingly voted to make marriage between a man and a woman and so that’s what we’re going to be talking about when we’re here in Nebraska,” Ricketts tells reporters. “That’s what the folks in the state put in the constitution and that’s what we at the state continue to defend.”

Voters approved the law in 2000.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this story.

Nebraska trooper traffic stops include million dollar meth bust

Blue-lightsWeekend traffic stops by state troopers resulted in drug busts, including a million dollar methamphetamine bust.

According to the Nebraska State Patrol, a trooper stopped an eastbound car for speeding on I-80 just west of the Lincoln Airport Exit. A search of the car led to the seizure of more than 23 pounds of methamphetamine, contained in 18 packages stuffed in a hidden compartment in the car. NSP estimates the meth has a street value of a million dollars.

35-year-old Omar Alexis Barguez Perez of Bellflower, CA has been charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver.

Another trooper stopped an eastbound car for speeding on I-80 near the Hampton Exit in Hamilton County. A drug dog used by NSP led troopers to seize 27 pounds of marijuana in three duffle bags in the trunk.

Three people have been charged, including 40-year-old Kristopher Krey of Round Lake, IL, the driver. NSP reporters he and two passengers, 45-year-old Mai Krey of Round Lake and 30-year-old Alexander Henson of McHenry, IL have been charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver.

The third drug bust took place in Keith County, also on I-80.

A trooper pulled a car over for speeding. A search of the car led a seizure of 20 pounds of marijuana in two garbage bags in the trunk.

The driver of the car, 38-year-old John A. Certeza of Fairfield, CA, and a passenger, 30-year-old Visakhane Nhothsiri of Ceres, CA have been charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver.

Nebraska man convicted of sexually abusing his children

A Dakota County man has been convicted on ten felony counts for sexually abusing his two young children.

Attorney General Jon Bruning says his office is withholding the name of the 30-year-old to protect the identification of his two children, ages 11 and 13.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the convictions include:

One count of  1st degree sexual assault of a child, a Class IB felony, a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in prison
One count of attempted 1st degree sexual assault of a child, a Class II felony, 1-50 years
One count of incest, a Class III felony, 1-5 years
One count of attempted incest, a Class IIIA felony, 1-20 years
Two counts of child abuse, a Class IIIA felony,  1-5 years each
Two counts of manufacturing child pornography, a Class ID felony, mandatory minimum of 3 years to a maximum of 50 years each
Two counts of possession of child pornography, a Class III felony, a mandatory minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 20 years each

“This man’s abuse of his two children is both horrific and heartbreaking,” said Bruning in a written statement released by his office. “Today’s conviction ensures he will spend decades behind bars, where he belongs.”

The AG office says the case broke when the youngest victim wrote a note to a friend that her father was acting inappropriately. The friend showed the note to the mother, who reported it to the Department of Health and Human Services, which launched an investigation. The investigation determined the abuse had been occurring for years.