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Guilty pleas top Wednesday's circuit court sentencing

Rather than face the possibility of longer prison sentences, a number of defendants agreed to plead guilty to a lesser number of crimes and accept stipulated sentences
Wednesday's string of prison sentences handed down in Crook County Circuit Court was unusual, the county district attorney said, because "We don't normally have that many felony convictions in Crook County at one time."
   Adding to the exceptional morning in court were the range of crimes people were pleading guilty to. They ranged from the case of dragging a person alongside a car as it sped away, to the incident in which a methamphetamine lab was discovered and hundreds of credit cards and other evidence of identity theft were recovered.
   The day didn't get an especially good start, however. One of the first to be sentenced didn't show up. Jeremiah Allen Calvio, 24, had been tried on Oct. 2 and found guilty of felony attempt to elude, reckless driving, DUII and felon in possession of a firearm. His sentencing was set over until Wednesday.
   Calvio had been serving a sentence for another crime and had been released on $25,000 bond. Following his conviction that release had been continued. When he failed to show up in court, Judge Gary Thompson revoked his conditional release and a no-bail arrest warrant was issued.
   The second case involved two young men who pleaded to the charge of attempting to cause serious injury by means of a dangerous weapon; a truck. According to Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown, Bobby Scott Bitner and Jeffrey Colvin McDonald had dragged their victim along E. Third Street last May.
   It was late at night and the victim had just got off work, Brown explained. "As he was standing in front of his house, the two defendants pulled up and started talking to him. As they were leaving, Bitner reached out to shake hands. When the victim took Bitner's hand, Bitner grabbed the victim's arm and the truck, driven by McDonald, drove off. The victim was dragged about 80 feet before breaking loose."
   Both defendants were charged with six crimes but through the plea bargain agreement, all but one assault charge and the failure to perform duties of a driver (hit and run) charge were to be dismissed. When it came time to agree to the plea arrangement, McDonald decided not to accept.
   Rather than face a trial, where they would face a likely conviction and possibly greater sentences on all the charges, the defendants were offered plea agreements. The agreement involved dismissal of some charges, but one of the stipulations was that they had to plead guilty to the remaining charges.
   Bitner formally entered a guilty plea to the two charges. Because of having prior convictions of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, he was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
   McDonald is scheduled to return to court Nov. 7.
   The third sentence hearing Judge Thompson heard also included two defendants; 30-year-old Vincent Eugene Weyer and Randena Dezeray Franke, 22. The pair originally faced a total of 13 charges in one case, and three in another.
   District Attorney Gary Williams explained that the two had relocated from the Portland area, moving into a single-wide mobile home in the Juniper Canyon area. A third woman living in the house was involved in a motor vehicle accident early in February. Transported to Pioneer Memorial Hospital, she was treated and release.
   However, when authorities ran a check on her car, they discovered it had been stolen in Portland. Interviewed by police officers, the woman told quite a tale.
   She had purchased the vehicle from Weyer, she claimed, and further more, Weyer had numerous firearms, drugs, stolen credit cards and other items he had brought from Portland.
   With a search warrant in hand, authorities visited the Juniper Canyon house and turned up a long list of stolen items. As part of his description of the case to the court, Williams read off the list; more than 100 cards, vehicle titles, motel key cards, driver's licenses and other similar identity material, none in the defendant)s name.
   A dozen cell phones were also among the items turned up by the police during the search. Various materials usually associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine was also found at the home. Two stolen rifles added to the charges filed against Weyer once officers discovered the man had a history of felony convictions.
   Both Weyer and Franke were also charged with theft in cases of items being stolen from residences near the Juniper Canyon mobile they were living in.
   Legally, the defendants, having plead guilty as per the agreement, could be sentenced at that time or delay the formal sentencing for 48 hours. Franke chose to take the two-day delay.
   Her partner in crime, Weyer, chose to be sentenced right then. Lecturing him on his criminal behavior, Judge Thompson gave the defendant 32 months in prison with 36 months of post prison supervision.
   Williams said he didn't understand why Franke put off the sentencing. "She has no prior criminal record so I)m going to recommend to the court that she get 150 days in jail and 36 months probation," he said after the hearings concluded.
   With the present jail situation, Williams added, she might have had the jail time waived. However, with the new Jefferson County Jail opening and with Crook County renting beds there, if the judge agrees to the jail time, Williams believes she might end up serving them there.
   Franke is to appear in court to hear her sentence next Monday.