Charges against a 42-year-old Wood River man accused of illegal firearm possession and tampering with evidence have been sent to the Adams County District Court.
Adams County Judge Timothy Hoeft bound over the case against Timothy D. Fletcher following a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
Fletcher faces charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and tampering with evidence.
Chief Deputy Kevin Mauck testified that the Adams County Sheriff’s Office received information about Fletcher being in possession of a firearm on Sept. 11 in Kenesaw at the house where his 15-year-old son lives with the boy’s mother, Stephanie Hempstead.
Fletcher is prohibited from possessing firearms due to a 2020 conviction for driving under revocation from a DUI or refusal.
Mauck said deputies received a photograph and a video showing Fletcher holding what appeared to be an uzi-style rifle. In one of the images, Fletcher was holding the weapon to his head, raising concern about his safety.
Deputies with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office searched for Fletcher with aid from the Nebraska State Patrol. An alert also was sent out to residents of Adams County advising them to stay indoors.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Glenn Kemp testified he became involved in the investigation after the alert went out and he called to see if his assistance was needed.
Several hours and several tips from the public later, deputies were able to locate Fletcher hiding in a bean field near the railroad tracks.
Kemp testified Fletcher was taken into custody without incident.
Fletcher agreed to talk to deputies and told Kempt that the item in the images was an air-powered weapon, not a firearm.
Later, Kemp said the barrel of the gun was turned over to deputies by Hempstead, indicating the weapon had been a .22-caliber rifle.
Kemp said Fletcher’s son told deputies that his father had asked him to dismantle the weapon and discard the pieces. The boy led deputies to a ravine between Kenesaw and Holstein where the pieces had been discarded.
Among the parts located, Kemp said, he found a serial number for the weapon and tracked down the last registered owner in Shelton.
The owner told Kemp that he didn’t like the way the gun worked and offered to sell it on social media three or four years ago. The man said he traded it to Fletcher’s son for a four-wheel vehicle. Kemp said the man told him the weapon was for Fletcher’s son.
Deputy Adams County Attorney Dale Callahan asked the judge to send the case to the district court at the end of the hearing.
Adams County Public Defender Shon Lieske asked for the case to be dismissed, noting that the deputies didn’t recall any date stamp on the images and the weapon in the images may not have been an actual firearm.
Even if the weapon in the images was the same as the one later traced by law enforcement, Lieske argued, the weapon had been purchased for the boy and was kept primarily in his room.
Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is a Class 1D felony punishable by three to 50 years in prison. Tampering with evidence in a pending investigation of a Class 2 or higher felony is a Class 2 felony punishable by up to 50 years in prison.