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COLUMBUS — A district court judge decided a Monroe man’s likelihood of continuing down a path of violence and criminal activity outweighed any apologies he offered in court before sentencing the area man to up to eight years in prison.

“There is a substantial probability you would engage in continued criminal behavior,” Platte County Judge Robert Steinke told 37-year-old Eleazar Oceguera Jr. before sentencing the defendant last week to five to eight years in prison for a 2016 vehicle theft and an August domestic assault.

“You are a high risk to reoffend,” the judge said while listing Oceguera’s felony convictions for drug and alcohol offenses, thefts and domestic assaults.

Steinke’s scolding came after the defendant offered his apology.

“I apologize to my family,” said Oceguera, the divorced father of two children. “I also want to apologize to all the people I hurt.”

Oceguera pleaded guilty to beating up his pregnant live-in girlfriend in August and stealing a vehicle late in 2016 from the job site while the new Columbus High School was under construction.

The assault charge is a Class 2A felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The vehicle theft charge is a Class IV felony carrying a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison.

In exchange for the defendant’s pleas, the county attorney’s office dismissed a burglary charge in connection with an Aug. 12 residential break-in and a separate theft charge.

An investigation by the Platte County Sheriff's Office and Columbus Police got underway Aug. 17 when Oceguera’s estranged girlfriend came forward with information about stolen property involving her boyfriend.

The woman reported Oceguera assaulted her earlier that day as she was ready to leave him, Columbus Police Investigator Heath Haynes wrote in his probable cause arrest statement.

The woman reported Oceguera was upset the night of Aug. 11-12, wanted to break into a house and took her with him.

She also reported being at the couple’s Monroe home on Nov. 11, 2016, when Oceguera arrived in a 1987 El Camino stolen from the high school construction site, Haynes wrote. She said he later dropped off the vehicle north of Monroe near the Loup Public Power District powerhouse, according to the investigator.

During a search of the couple’s residence, items reportedly inside the stolen vehicle were found in the garage.



Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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