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Norfolk man sentenced to prison for fourth DUI

December 16, 2018

MADISON — A Norfolk man involved in a high-speed pursuit with law enforcement while he was under the influence was sentenced to prison Friday morning.

Jesse Knust, 27, also refused chemical testing after he was apprehended in the incident earlier this year, and he was driving without a license due to three prior DUI convictions.

In Madison County District Court on Friday, Deputy Madison County Attorney Matthew Kiernan said Knust had been on a motorcycle/motorbike when police attempted to pull him over for failing to stop at a stop sign and for driving without a headlight late in the evening.

“(Knust) then fled from the police in a high-speed pursuit. Police eventually disengaged in fear of other people being injured in an accident,” Kiernan said.

Knust was later found in a ditch and admitted to driving earlier that night.

“If you look at (Knust’s) history, this is his fourth DUI in just a few years. One has to assume there were other times when he was driving under the influence and he wasn’t caught. If you get this many DUIs in such a young man, there’s obviously a problem here,” Kiernan said.

He recommended Knust be sentenced to a term of incarceration in prison, where he could receive treatment for his alcohol abuse.

Knust’s attorney, Chelsey Hartner with the Madison County Public Defender’s office, said her client’s criminal history is almost entirely drug- and alcohol-related.

Knust was convicted of his first DUI at the age of 18, another at 22 and a third just last year at the age of 26.

“His substance abuse issues seem to have started after the death of a friend when (Knust) was a teenager in high school,” Hartner said.

Knust drank alcohol for the first time after his friend committed suicide, and he drank to the point of intoxication. Knust began drinking that amount consistently until it became a daily behavior until his most recent arrest.

Following Knust’s fourth DUI, he “realized he was not in a good place and needed to get some help,” Hartner said.

Knust checked himself into Sunrise Place, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Norfolk, and graduated from the program. He was also recently accepted into The Link Halfway House and had been staying clean, Hartner said.

She asked the court to consider a term of probation, which she said Knust realized was rarely granted in fourth offense DUI cases.

“It would allow him to do that programming at The Link. He really needs that sober living environment. And also, probation has lots of other programming that would be beneficial for him to take advantage of,” Hartner said.

If probation was not appropriate, she asked the court to run Knust’s sentences on his three counts concurrently.

When given the opportunity to address the court, Knust declined.

Judge Mark Johnson recounted the pursuit Knust was involved in and the fact that Knust had no license due to a prior 15-year revocation for driving under the influence — third offense.

“Innocent people on the road are threatened when people drive intoxicated. The flight to avoid arrest also presented a danger not only to yourself, but to the officer pursuing you and to anyone that may have come into your path,” Johnson said.

He said that while it is commendable that Knust had gone to treatment, the court would find that Knust was unwilling or unable to conform to the law.

Johnson then sentenced Knust to 30-48 months in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for 74 days previously served. If he loses none of his good time, Knust must serve at least 15 months, less 74 days, before he is first eligible for parole and he must serve at least two years, less 74 days, before his mandatory release.

Knust was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and his license was revoked for 15 years.

Johnson also sentenced others on the following charges:

Leaving the scene of a personal injury accident

Benjamin Coover, 32, Battle Creek, attempted leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, $3,500 fine, costs.

Delivery of marijuana

Justice Starman, 19, 1800 Vicki Lane, Apt. 24, delivery of marijuana, attempted delivery of marijuana, 270 days in jail with credit for 12 days served for delivery, 24 months of probation and 90 days in jail to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived on attempted delivery, costs.

Possession of methamphetamine

Richardo Jurado, 61, no address listed, possession of methamphetamine, shoplifting, 36 months in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for 105 days served, 24 months of post-release supervision, 120 days of GPS monitoring following release from prison, costs.

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