A Columbus man who in February was located in Colorado after being classified as missing for more than a year now faces sexual assault charges in Platte County.

Joseph A. Voecks, 22, last week pleaded not guilty before Judge Robert Steinke in Platte County District Court to the lone charge of first-degree sexual assault of a minor, a Class II felony. Voecks, who is being held on a $100,000 bond with a 10-percent option, faces a maximum prison sentence of 50 years in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

The defendant at the time of his arrest also faced a felony charge out of Nance County, according to information provided by the Nebraska State Patrol.

The alleged sexual assault occurred long before the defendant was presumed missing or dead in January 2018. In July 2017, an officer with the Columbus Police Department responded to a treatment center in Omaha to speak to a child wishing to report a sexual assault.

Contact was made with the alleged victim who reported that she had been violated by a man at least 19 years old when she was younger than 16. The female reported that the sexual encounter happened when she was 14 years old in August 2016.

While walking near the 33rd Avenue bridge that crosses the Loup River, Voecks and the girl were reportedly near the north bank near the levee when the defendant allegedly tripped her to the ground. Court records show she got up off the ground and that the Voecks pushed her to the ground again before allegedly sexually assaulting her.

The defendant is scheduled for a 9 a.m. jury trial on Aug. 5.

In other district court news:

*Steven A. Armenta-Price, 26, of Norfolk, pleaded not guilty to being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, a Class ID felony; theft by receiving stolen property in the amount of $5,000 or more, a Class IIA felony; being in possession of deadly weapon while committing a felony, a Class III felony; being in possession of a controlled substance, a Class IV felony; and being a habitual criminal.

In December 2018, the defendant allegedly led Columbus Police on a chase in a stolen vehicle before being apprehended. In the vehicle, court records show that police found two baggies of methamphetamine, a Bowie knife, handgun and drug paraphernalia. A criminal history check revealed that Armenta-Price was convicted on a felony offense in September 2017. The defendant is scheduled for an Aug. 5 jury trial.

*Christopher R. Helmick pleaded not guilty to being in possession of a controlled substance and theft by shoplifting third offense. In March, an officer with the Columbus Police Department was dispatched to a convenience store in the 500 block of East 23rd Street in reference to a suspected shoplifting, court records show. The reporting party indicated that he or she saw three individuals running out of the station with handfuls of unpaid items.

The officer conducted a traffic stop after seeing the vehicle leaving the station, according to a warrantless arrest affidavit. Helmick, one of the three people in the car, had two outstanding Platte County warrants and was subsequently taken into custody. While being searched following his arrest, a meth pipe containing drug residue was allegedly found in his shorts pocket. Helmick is scheduled for an Aug. 5 jury trial.

*Sabrina R. Reeves, 22, of Elgin, pleaded not guilty to being in possession of a controlled substance and theft by unlawful taking. She is scheduled for a June 17 jury trial.

*Bobbie I. Kleinberg, 40, of Columbus pleaded no contest and was found guilty of being in possession of methamphetamine, a Class IV felony. A pre-sentence investigation report was ordered and sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 19.

*Jesse R. Blanchard, 41, of Columbus, pleaded not guilty to attempting a Class I/IA/IB/IC/or ID felony, a Class II felony. The charge was amended from being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, a Class ID felony. A plea hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on May 1.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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