A former care worker for the Beatrice State Developmental Center has pleaded no contest to charges he abused residents there.
The plea agreement Matthew Pangborn of Beatrice reached with Gage County prosecutors ends the case against him. Pangborn had been convicted earlier, but the Nebraska Supreme Court overturned the conviction.
Pangborn entered the pleas in Gage County District Court on three counts of abuse of a vulnerable adult and two charges of strangulation. Four other charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Gage County Attorney Roger Harris says his office weighed accepting the plea agreement against the costs of a new trial.
“It indicated we would be open to a presentment of an offer,” Harris tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KWBE. “And, here in the last few weeks, I want to say like three or four weeks, they made a proposal. We responded to that; basically what you see, what was entered into.”
Sentencing comes later. After the earlier trial that was overturned, Pangborn had been sentenced to between 15-and-23 years in prison. He still faces a hefty prison sentence after reaching the plea bargain.
Pangborn was accused of abusing three adult BSDC residents between May and August of 2011.
Harris says his office consulted with parents and guardians before agreeing to accept the “no contest” plea.
“Each of the victims, there was a count that he pled to with a felony and that was important,” Harris says. “We wanted to include all of the victims in that matter.”
The Nebraska Supreme Court had ordered a new trial over submission of a prosecutor’s chart for jury deliberation, describing the time frame of the abuse incidents. A jury convicted Pangborn in October of 2012.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this story.