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‘Night of terror’ lands homeless man in prison

November 22, 2018

MADISON — A multi-assault incident in Norfolk this summer led to the arrest and conviction of a homeless man. On Tuesday morning, it also earned him a prison sentence.

Travis J. Lewis, 29, had previously pleaded guilty in Madison County District Court to strangulation and three counts of third-degree assault.

Lewis was arrested June 15 on the charges of strangulation, third-degree assault on an officer, three counts of third-degree assault, trespassing, third-degree sexual assault, and disturbing the peace.

According to court records, Norfolk police responded to a call June 13 just before 9:30 p.m. regarding a man acting erratically at 122 E. Phillip Ave.

The resident at the address arrived home to find a shirtless Lewis in his driveway. The man said he attempted to speak to Lewis, but Lewis tried to get into the car and then began to hit at the driver’s window.

The man drove away and the police were contacted shortly thereafter.

Another call came in to the Norfolk Police Division at the same time that a shirtless man had entered a residence and assaulted two females at their residence in the same area.

In the arrest affidavit for Lewis, it is reported that a female was entering her home and Lewis pushed her into the residence, groped her and pushed her up against a wall, striking her head and causing injury.

Another female resident attempted to get Lewis off of her roommate, but Lewis slapped that woman in the head and pushed her up against the wall, the affidavit said.

The two females were eventually able to push Lewis out of the house and call the police.

At 9:35 that same night, it was reported to Norfolk police that a shirtless man had assaulted a resident of 411 Blaine St.

The resident said the man, later identified as Lewis, had walked up the driveway and stated that the man’s truck belonged to him. The resident disagreed and told Lewis to leave.

The man then said that Lewis punched him on the side of the face and placed him in a choke hold from behind. While being choked, the man was able to use a pocket knife to defend himself and Lewis ran off.

Responding officers located Lewis a few minutes later, and Lewis admitted to the assault on the man with the knife. While Lewis was being treated by paramedics, he kicked a Norfolk police captain in the face, striking his mouth and nose.

IN COURT Tuesday, Judge James Kube pointed out that the incident seemed to be “somewhat related” to a mental health matter.

“You have indicated in the substance abuse evaluation that you have quite a history of drug abuse, and you started at a pretty young age,” Kube said.

Deputy Madison County Attorney Matthew Kiernan said that in one way or another, Lewis had assaulted or disturbed at least five people on the night in question.

“Both (female victims) had to seek medical treatment, both physical and mental. This was a night of terror that does not deserve to be minimized just because the defendant might have been under the influence of a controlled substance. ...

“(Lewis) deserves a term of incarceration that reflects the suffering of the victims caused that night,” Kiernan said.

Lewis’ attorney, Chelsey Hartner with the Madison County Public Defender’s Office, said her client had never had a conviction on an assaultive crime, aside from a juvenile matter.

“I think that obviously what’s most notable is methamphetamine use. When you look at the PSI (pre-sentence investigation), the medical reports after his arrest, (Lewis) was significantly under the influence that day,” Hartner said.

She said there is no indication that Lewis would act in an assaultive manner if he was not on drugs.

“He used meth the first time at age 15 with his mother, and he’s had several years of daily use. ... He wants treatment. If the court would place him on a term of probation, that would give him the chance to do that,” Hartner said.

If probation wasn’t a possible option, Hartner asked the court to consider concurrent terms of incarceration on Lewis’ four charges.

Lewis was given the opportunity to address the court, and he apologized.

Kube then asked Lewis where he was in terms of his addiction.

“I’m ready to be done with it. I can’t even think about that night. I almost got killed because of my addiction. Things could have been a lot worse,” Lewis said.

Kube said he didn’t know whether Lewis’ actions had to do with mental health issues or with drug use, but the ensuing situation had been very violent.

He then sentenced Lewis to three years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for 160 days previously served. If he loses none of his good time, Lewis’ mandatory release would be in 18 months, less 160 days.

Lewis was also sentenced to 12 months of post-release supervision and ordered to pay court costs.

Kube also sentenced others on the following charges:

Possession of cocaine

Tyler J. Ross, 25, Clarkson, attempted possession of cocaine, driving under the influence (.15 grams or more), $500 fine, 12 months of probation, two days in jail with credit for one day served, license revoked for one year.

Driving under the influence

Juan R. Carranza, 33, Wagner, S.D., driving under the influence — fifth offense, 5-7 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for two days served, license revoked for 15 years, costs.

Aaron A. Bredthauer, 37, 1001 W. Norfolk Ave., driving under the influence (.15 grams or more) — third offense, $1,000 fine, 24 months of probation, 60 days in jail with credit for three days served, license revoked for seven years, costs.

Theft

Taylor J. Schwager, 31, Orchard, theft by receiving, issuing a no-account check, 18 months in the Nebraska Department of Corrections, $14,797.72 in restitution, costs.

Delivery of a controlled substance

Jonathan Gamez, 21, 1303 Pierce St., Apt. 301, attempted delivery of cocaine, delivery of marijuana, 4-5 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for eight days served, costs.

Possession of methamphetamine

Jeffrey L. Tilley, 30, Wayne, attempted possession of methamphetamine, driving under suspension, 18 months of probation, 90 days in jail with credit for seven days served to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived.

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