A jury of Jorge Robledo’s peers will no longer have the burden of weighing his guilt in regard to the June shooting of Columbus Police Officer Bradley Wangler.
On Wednesday afternoon, the 24-year-old Grand Island man pleaded no contest in Platte County District Court to a string of offenses connected to the June 7 incident that left both Wangler and the defendant hospitalized with gunshot wounds after Robledo opened fire at a local residence.
Through a negotiated plea, Robledo was found guilty on two counts of being in possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person second offense, a Class IB felony; first-degree assault of an officer, a Class ID felony; using a deadly weapon to commit a felony, a Class IC felony; and being in possession of a schedule II exceptionally hazardous controlled substance with intent to distribute – 140 grams-plus of methamphetamine, a Class IB felony.
The IB felonies carry a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in prison, ID felony a mandatory minimum of three-50 years and the IC felony carrying a consecutive – stacked sentence – of five-50 years in prison.
Through the prosecution’s negotiations with Defense Attorney Kaz Long, the state isn’t pursuing habitual criminal status for Robledo. If classified a habitual criminal, Robledo would have faced a mandatory 10-year sentence on each charge.
Through negotiations, several additional charges were dismissed by the state: Second-degree assault of an officer with a dangerous instrument, a Class II felony; attempted murder, a Class II felony; and two counts of using a deadly weapon to commit a felony, a Class IC felony.
Robledo in August previously pleaded not guilty to all filed charges before amending his plea Wednesday before Judge Robert Steinke.
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 during suspension and being in possession of drug paraphernalia.
Robledo, who was armed initially with a handgun and later with a rifle in the front yard of the home, opened fire on Wangler before the sergeant returned fire, striking the defendant, as previously reported by The Columbus Telegram.
Prior to making the plea deal, Robledo was scheduled for a Dec. 27 status hearing leading up to a Jan. 7 scheduled trial. He is now expected to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.
Wangler, a 20-year veteran of the Columbus Police force, was named Police Officer of the Year by the Nebraska Police Officers’ Association during an October Banquet in Kearney. On the day of the ceremony, the sergeant told The Telegram he was back on a light-work duty at the station and that he expected to return to full duty in the following months.
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.