A 27-year-old North Platte man will serve up to 10 years in prison for imprisoning his wife in a room, then setting fires in her home just before Christmas last year.
“We’re lucky we’re not in the situation where this was a homicide,” Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling said Monday before Lucas J. Vollmer’s sentencing.
District Judge Richard Birch gave Vollmer five to 10 years in prison for first-degree arson and a two-year prison term for first-degree false imprisonment. The sentences are concurrent, with 250 days’ credit for time served.
“Clearly this is a serious offense,” Birch told Vollmer. “You placed several people at serious risk, not just the victim.”
Vollmer pleaded no contest to both counts June 3 when prosecutors dismissed related felony counts of terroristic threats and using a deadly weapon to commit a felony.
He was arrested by Gothenburg police in the late afternoon of Dec. 16, soon after North Platte police had made contact with a woman who had escaped her house in the 600 block of North Miles Avenue.
She told police an argument between her and Vollmer had begun earlier in the day, but was interrupted when she left for a while.
After they returned, she said, the argument resumed and Vollmer “forced her into a room and would not let her leave.” He nailed the door shut, then started lighting her Christmas tree, carpet, clothing and other items on fire, police said.
Harling said Vollmer “has just been going up the ladder of violent behavior,” citing a criminal record that Birch said included nine jail terms and one previous felony conviction.
Chawnta Durham, Vollmer’s attorney, cited a court deposition in which Vollmer’s wife said she believed he was trying to harm himself. His state of mind “was significantly affected by substance abuse,” she said.
Two other North Platte men received prison terms during Monday’s district court “motion day,” while a third received three years’ probation and a stern warning that violation would send him to prison.
» Tracy M. McCants, 52, will serve up to eight years in prison on four felony counts — two for distribution of methamphetamine and two for being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon — in separate incidents last October and November.
District Judge Michael Piccolo gave McCants four to eight years apiece on the drug charges and three years each on the weapons counts. He will serve them all at the same time, with credit for time served.
McCants’ criminal record dates to 1992 and includes several prison terms, Deputy County Attorney Kortnei Hoeft told the judge.
“Mr. McCants is the very definition of a habitual criminal,” she added.
McCants’ attorney, Martin Troshynski, agreed that his client’s “criminal record is extensive. It is. It’s terrible.” But “extensive sentences in prison ought to be saved for people we’re scared of, not people we’re mad at.”
» Anthony R. Sandoval, 31, received concurrent three- to six-year prison terms from Birch for felony burglary and possession of a stolen firearm in an incident on July 24, 2018.
Prosecutors dropped a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm May 20, when Sandoval pleaded no contest to the other charges.
Piccolo said Sandoval had “a significant criminal history” that included previous prison time for burglary and a 2014 probation term that later was revoked. He also has pending charges against him in Adams County.
But the judge also gave Sandoval 323 days’ credit against his sentence — 143 days for time served in jail and the six months he successfully spent at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Omaha.
» Shelby W. Foster, 35, received concurrent three-year probation terms from Piccolo for possession of hydrocodone, possession of oxycodone and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person.
Foster pleaded no contest May 7 to the three felony charges, which stem from incidents on Nov. 19, 2018. Prosecutors dropped two misdemeanor counts in that case, as well as two other drug cases from 2018.
Piccolo accepted a recommendation of probation in Foster’s presentence investigation. But “I will advise you I’m cautiously concerned about putting you on probation,” the judge said.
If Foster violates his probation, he added, “this court will without hesitation send you to the Nebraska Department of Corrections for a significant amount of time.”