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Cass County Courthouse photograph

PLATTSMOUTH – A Lincoln man who nearly died in Cass County after ingesting drugs will spend time in Cass County Jail for violating probation.

Spencer T. Downing, 24, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning for a sentencing hearing. He admitted earlier this year that he had not followed many of his probation requirements.

A Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputy stopped Downing in his car in April 2016 at the intersection of Highway 34 and 250th Street east of Eagle. The deputy discovered Downing was choking from the effects of ingesting the marijuana-like substance of tetrahydrocannabinols. He had stopped breathing for a short time before the deputy was able to help him breathe properly again.

Downing pled guilty in 2017 to a Class I misdemeanor charge of attempted possession of controlled substance-THC. He began serving 24 months of probation in April 2017.

Local authorities asked the court to revoke his probation this year after they learned he had committed numerous violations. Downing failed to report for mandatory drug testing 20 times between December 2018 and March 2019, and he tested positive for marijuana during visits on Jan. 17 and Feb. 17. He stopped communicating with probation officials in late February, missed two office appointments and did not pay all of his required court fees.

Deputy County Attorney Richard Fedde asked the court to issue a jail sentence. He felt Downing had squandered his chance to be on probation with his actions over the past 18 months.

“While he was on probation he basically failed in every significant way,” Fedde said. “He completely disengaged from probation.”

Defense attorney Jonathan Braaten said his client had completed multiple treatment sessions while on probation. He said Downing had also made progress in many aspects of his life.

“The benefit of his treatment is that there have been no law violations since 2016,” Braaten said. “That was not what Mr. Downing’s life was like before this period. I think he is on the right track. Not having a law violation for three years is a pretty significant achievement for him when you look at where he was.”

Judge Michael Smith said he recognized that Downing had taken several positive steps during the past 18 months. Smith said the multiple violations overshadowed those achievements and made it necessary to impose jail time.

Smith ordered Downing to spend 90 days in Cass County Jail. Downing will begin his jail term July 15. He will receive credit for two days he spent in jail after his initial arrest.

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