Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nebraska: Facing 20+ years in jail for felony animal cruelty, Tommy Leetch sentenced to just 90 days in jail

NEBRASKA -- A Grand Island man was sentenced to jail in two animal cruelty cases and three other cases on Wednesday morning in Merrick County Court.

Tommy Leetch Sr. (aka Thomas Leetch), formerly of Merrick County, was charged with three misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

Two charges came from incidents in March involving a brindle and white female adult American pit bull terrier and a black female terrier mix puppy. The two misdemeanor charges were amended in that case from felonies. 

The other 19 misdemeanor charges in that case were previously dropped. The other charge in a separate animal cruelty case was from May 2016 and involved horses.

Leetch appeared in court with his attorney, James Wagoner. Lynelle Homolka was the prosecutor.

Leetch also appeared for sentencing in three other cases, all from this year.

One was on a theft charge, one was for failure to appear and the other was for a false reporting charge.

In May, Leetch pleaded no contest to theft by taking of $500 or less and to failure to appear. He pleaded guilty to false reporting.

At the sentencing hearing, Homolka said she didn’t think Leetch should be eligible for probation and that his sentences should be consecutive because of his criminal history, especially in the past year. 

She argued that she thought Leetch should have learned his lesson from his past convictions and fines. She also said his neighbors have had problems with him.

Wagoner countered that Leetch’s record is mostly traffic offenses. He also commented on the neighbor comment.

“Mr. Leetch does not live in this county anymore, so I’m sure that the neighborhood problems will subside,” Wagoner said.

Merrick County Judge Stephen R.W. Twiss said Leetch’s criminal history couldn’t be overlooked.

“I can’t overlook the fact, Mr. Leetch, that you have been convicted of multiple crimes over the period of 10 months,” Twiss said.

He sentenced Leetch to 90 days in jail plus court costs for the case with the horses, and a total of 180 days in jail plus credit for one day previously served for the cases involving the dogs.

Leetch was also sentenced to not live with or own any animals for five years.

In the theft case, he was sentenced to pay $50 restitution, $50 in court costs and spend 60 days in jail. If he doesn’t pay the restitution through the court within a year, he could face more court hearings.

For the false reporting case, Leetch was sentenced to court costs and 90 days in jail. In the failure to appear case, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and court costs. Twiss said the sentences in each of the five cases should be served consecutively. The sentences total 420 days, or about 14 months.

Leetch requested time through the weekend to make arrangements, but Twiss rejected it. He was then taken into custody.


(Kearney Hub - July 13, 2017)


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