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When a rural Oakdale man saw a dog attacking his pig last summer, he grabbed a 20-gauge shotgun and headed out to protect it. In his haste, he tripped, fell and shot himself in the leg. His girlfriend called 911.
Robert Boyd, 38, was rushed to the hospital for his gunshot wound. Authorities later cited him for illegally possessing a firearm because he is a convicted felon.
Boyd pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, a class IIA felony, in Antelope County District Court last December. On Wednesday, he appeared for sentencing on the charge in front of Judge James Kube.
“You know, I’m like a little fish in a big pond,” Boyd told the judge. “We’ve got all these big farmers out there...I’ve got two animals and what I’ve got, I don’t want to lose. It was hard enough losing one of my pigs. You know, that’s kind of like my income.”
He realizes a gun shouldn’t have been in his possession, he said.
“Getting shot, that hurt, honestly,” Boyd said. “It was no fun. But it happened. I shouldn’t have had the gun, and I understand that, but my livestock, I don’t want to lose them, that’s money out of my pocket.”
He said he was just trying to protect his livestock and was glad his girlfriend wasn’t the one injured.
“Honestly, I’m glad it was me, the one that got hurt,” Boyd said. “My girlfriend, you know, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, especially her. You know, I went out there to do that because I felt it was my responsibility as well. You know, I would feel just as bad if she would’ve got shot. I was glad it was me and not her. You know, she means more to me than my animals do.”
“I hope so,” Judge Kube replied. “She hopes so.”
The judge told him that he understood his explanation; however, it didn’t change the fact that it is illegal for Boyd to possess firearms.
“You’ve got to know you can’t have firearms,” Judge Kube said. “Now it’s unfortunate that you got shot, but I can’t really consider that as part of your punishment, although if you think about it, it probably was. Probably more so that you were careless in using the firearm, didn’t have surefooting, tripped and had an accident happen. You’re right, you could’ve tripped, had the firearm engage and shot her or shot somebody else or maybe shot the pig you were trying to protect. That’s what happens when you run around with loaded firearms. The point is, you’re not supposed to have those.”
Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler told the judge he would not make any recommendations for sentencing.
“I understand the circumstances he was trying to protect his livestock,” Abler said. “It’s still illegal, technically a violation of the law. I won’t make any specific recommendations.”
Norfolk attorney Charles Balsiger, who was filling in for public defender Pat Carney, requested a probation sentence for Boyd.
“I’ve had a chance to review his presentence investigation as well, and I can’t help but notice the checkered past that Mr. Boyd has with regard to previous convictions,” Balsiger admitted.
However, he said Boyd had successfully completed his last probation sentence in 2017 and felt his client would “perform well on probation.”
Judge Kube sentenced Boyd to 12 months of probation, ordered him to pay $150 in court costs and sentenced him to 90 days in jail at the conclusion of probation with credit for 37 days previously served. The jail time may be waived if probation is successfully completed.
In other matters, three others were sentenced on misdemeanor charges or for probation violations.
After purchasing a car, Travis Mace found the seller’s checkbook left inside and used it to write three checks totalling more than $1,500.
Mace said he “wasn’t thinking straight” when he wrote those checks, and he appeared for sentencing on attempted theft by deception, a class I misdemeanor.
His attorney Martin Klein said the best outcome for this case would have been drug court, but it wasn’t available.
“There’s really no other explanation for what happened, other than his drug use,” Klein said. “Although he hasn’t admitted it to me, I would assume that he probably wrote those checks to support that habit at the same time.”
Klein requested a probation sentence for his client, stating that he would benefit from the program’s regular drug testing “to keep him clean and keep him employed.”
“His wife may be in a little bit worse shape in this court, and this way—he has three kids and one on the way—they will have at least one of their parents at home to take care of them if Mr. Mace is out,” he said.
Mace admitted that he has “lost everything” because he was using methamphetamine.
“Meth has ruined my life,” he said. “I want to and am willing to change my life around for myself and my family.”
After Mace pleaded for a probation sentence, the courtroom was quiet for more than five minutes as the judge contemplated his sentence.
When Judge Kube finally broke the silence, he said, “I wasn’t ready to give you probation. Quite honestly, this is a theft, writing checks, restitution, normally that’s not something you give probation for.”
However, the judge said he believes Mace has an underlying drug problem that appears to be the driving force behind his criminal activity.
“Methamphetamine can and will ruin your life,” Judge Kube said. “You’ve experienced part of that. You’ve lost your job and obviously find yourself in this situation.”
The judge said Mace is fortunate he still has the support of family and friends because “many times addicts have burned those bridges.”
“You’re starting to circle down the toilet, basically,” Judge Kube said. “You haven’t been flushed yet. You still have people in your life that care about you and are willing to support you, so I’ll give you probation.”
The judge sentenced Mace to 18 months of probation and ordered him to pay $452.78 in court costs and $1,588.85 in restitution ($650 to First National Bank, $100 to Jennifer Cox and $838.85 to Verizon Wireless).
Christopher Brady, 28, appeared for sentencing on information to revoke his probation, along with his attorney Charles Balsiger.
The county attorney said Brady previously violated his probation sentence and was already granted a six-month extension before violating his probation a second time.
“He was cited and found to be in possession of an open container in a motor vehicle by the sheriff’s office, as well as not following other conditions of his probation,” Abler said.
In addition, the county attorney said “Mr. Brady’s been in and out of court here quite a few times” and “testing positive.”
“We’ve given the defendant quite a few chances,” Abler said. “I understand that Mr. Brady did well and cleaned up for quite awhile, but the state is here to say, ‘When is enough, enough?’”
Brady admitted to violating his probation and requested sentencing on his original charge of driving under revocation, a class I misdemeanor.
“I can’t get my drinking under control,” he told the judge. “I just want this whole thing behind me because I lost a very good job. I wish I would’ve stuck with probation, but obviously that didn’t work. I just want to be able to get this behind me and get out and get my job back and provide for my kids.”
Judge Kube said he was going to revoke Brady’s probation sentence.
“It always disappoints me when people don’t take that opportunity to try to change their life,” the judge said. “You say you’re going to get treatment and try to get your job back, that’s no different than what you should’ve done while you were on probation.”
Judge Kube said now that the structure of probation is missing for Brady, the “prognosis is very poor.”
“If you can’t do it on probation, most likely, you’re not going to do it now,” he said. “You have a woman who wants to marry you and have two kids. Those kids need you. They don’t need a drunk in their lives. They don’t need someone who is going to say, ‘Alcohol is more important than you kids. Sorry, I understand you need me, but I need the bottle.’ At some point, you’ve got to figure it out or your life is going to keep going down.”
Judge Kube sentenced Brady to six months in the Antelope County Jail and left the 15-year revocation of his driver’s license in place.
“I’ll leave it up to you,” the judge said. “I hope you make the right decisions. That’s really all it comes down to, making good decisions.”
Cory Romej, 41, also appeared for sentencing on information to revoke probation. He was represented by attorney Brad Montag. A domestic violence-related charge violated his probation order.
Since then, Abler said Romej “has remained sober, working hard and being a parent to his kids”— even after his wife recently passed away—so he didn’t object to the judge extending his probation sentence.
Montag requested that Romej be allowed to continue probation.
“Cory’s got four kids that he’s taking care of,” he said. “He’s always been a hard worker. He continues to do that.”
Judge Kube said he was pleased to hear that Romej was working hard and providing for his children.
“You’ve had a tragedy in your life, but you haven’t let that get the best of you,” the judge said. “You’ve made the decision to be a responsible parent, a responsible adult. That’s really all society wants from you.”
Judge Kube said he didn’t see any reason to revoke Romej’s probation, but decided to tack on an additional 90 days to his current probation sentence.
“Finish up your program,” he said. “Keep doing what you’re doing, keep being a good dad.”