A January jury trial date has been scheduled for a Grand Island man accused of shooting a Columbus Police officer earlier this summer.
Wearing a white shirt, khaki pants and ankle shackles, Jorge Robledo on Friday pleaded not guilty before District Court Judge Robert Steinke to a string of offenses stemming from his alleged involvement.
Robledo, 24, was arraigned on nine separate felony counts stemming from the June incident that placed both himself and Sgt. Bradley Wangler in the hospital with gunshot wounds. Wangler, a 19-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department, sustained gunshot injuries to his shoulder and neck while executing a search warrant at 3410 16th St., as previously reported by The Columbus Telegram.
The defendant, alongside Omaha attorney Kaz Long, listened as Steinke listed the filed charges.
Charges are: Two counts of being in possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person second offense, Class IB felonies; second-degree assault of an officer with a dangerous instrument, Class II felony; three counts of using a deadly weapon to commit a felony, Class IC felonies; first-degree assault of an officer, Class IB felony; attempted first-degree murder, Class II felony; and being in possession of a Schedule 2, exceptionally hazardous controlled substance with intent to distribute while in possession of a firearm and being within 1,000 feet of a school.
If convicted to the fullest extent of the law, Robledo could spend the rest of his life behind bars pursuant to the Class IB felonies, which carry a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. The state, being represented Friday by Deputy County Attorney Jose Rodriguez, is asking for Robledo to be tried as a habitual criminal on charges two, three, four, five, seven and eight.
“Whoever has been twice convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison in this state or any other state, or by the United States for terms of not less than one year each (offense), shall upon conviction of a felony committed in this state be deemed to be a habitual criminal,” Steinke said.
Habitual criminal status, the judge said, levies a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of no more than 60 years per charge. With the exception of the three counts of using a deadly weapon to commit a felony, Steinke said that if guilt is proved the court could choose to run the additional six charges consecutively, or one after the other.
Following Robledo’s not guilty pleas, Rodriguez said during an interview with The Telegram that it can be very hard to have an idea of what a defendant will choose to do with his or her plea.
“It really is on a case by case basis,” he said, adding that Platte County Attorney Carl Hart would prosecute for the state if the Robledo case does go to trial. “It depends on the case, the individual defendant and how that defendant wants to proceed. In a case like this, where there are felony charges, this (not guilty plea) wouldn’t be uncommon because a lot of times people want time to review things with their attorney about those felonies.”
Robledo was arrested June 7 after Wangler and another city officer responded to an anonymous report that Robledo was at a neighborhood residence. A warrant from the Hall County Court had been issued for Robledo when he failed to appear for a preliminary hearing on the drug distribution charges on May 7.
Robledo was wanted on charges of distributing methamphetamine, being in possession of a controlled substance, driving under suspension and being in possession of drug paraphernalia.
Robledo, who was allegedly armed initially with a handgun and later with a rifle in the front yard of the home, allegedly opened fire on Wangler before the sergeant returned fire, striking the defendant.
The defendant is currently being held on a $2 million bond with a 10-percent option at Nebraska Diagnostic and Evaluation Center in Lincoln where he been housed since being released from an Omaha hospital June 29.
Steinke scheduled a Dec. 27 status hearing prior to the Jan. 7 scheduled trial. Rodriguez added that plea deals are made in the majority of criminal cases leading up to a trial date.
Should it go to trial, it likely won’t be the shortest of ordeals.
“Several, at the very least,” Rodriguez told the court when asked by Long how many days the state would need to present its evidence.
Sam Pimper is the news editor of the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.