PLATTSMOUTH – A woman who stole more than $2,500 of items from a disabled man in Plattsmouth will spend time in state prison for the crime.
Natalie P. Edmondson, 26, appeared in Cass County District Court on Tuesday afternoon for a sentencing hearing. Edmondson, who now lives in Council Bluffs, pled guilty in May to a Class IIA felony charge of burglary. The state dismissed a Class IV felony charge of theft by taking-$1,500 to $5,000 as part of a plea agreement.
Edmondson had been scheduled to appear at a sentencing hearing in early August, but she failed to show up at the courthouse. She was later arrested in Pottawattamie County on a warrant and has remained in Cass County Jail.
Deputy County Attorney Steven Sunde told the court a Plattsmouth man had allowed Edmondson to stay with him for several days because she was homeless at the time. Sunde said the man is mentally handicapped and trusted Edmondson to live in the home.
The man told Edmondson he was planning to leave Plattsmouth for a vacation on Dec. 1, 2018. He said she had to move out of the residence by then as well.
Sunde said the man returned from vacation and found many of his possessions had been stolen. The list of items included three guitars, several television sets and many pieces of video game equipment. Police estimated the total value of the items was $2,720.
Plattsmouth police officers came to the scene and spoke with an eyewitness who said Edmondson had left the house with many items. The burglaries took place between Dec. 1 and Dec. 7. Police later interviewed Edmondson and arrested her on the burglary and theft charges.
Sunde said Tuesday afternoon that the state was recommending a prison sentence partly because of Edmondson’s criminal history. He said her first assault charge came in 2009 in Sarpy County and she was arrested for assault the following year in Douglas County. Her history includes convictions in Douglas and Sarpy counties in Nebraska and Pottawattamie County in Iowa.
Sunde said Edmondson’s actions in the Plattsmouth case had been premeditated. He said she befriended the victim with the intent of stealing from him sometime in the future. He felt the repeated nature of the thefts made it clear that it was not a spur-of-the- moment decision.
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“She did plan this out,” Sunde said. “She stole his house key in advance and then waited for him to leave town.”
Sunde also said Edmondson was aware of the victim’s mental limitations.
“She knew the victim was slow, and she took advantage of that,” Sunde said. “He felt very betrayed by her.”
Defense attorney Michael Ziskey said Edmondson had overcome several difficult circumstances in her life over the past few years. He asked the court to consider those hurdles when determining a sentence.
“I’d ask the court to put her situation into context,” Ziskey said. “Obviously that doesn’t excuse what happened, but it does put more context on the overall situation.”
Ziskey asked the court to place Edmondson on probation. He said probation would allow her to begin repaying the total restitution amount. He said she had a potential lead on a well-paying job in Council Bluffs if the court chose probation.
Judge Michael Smith said he felt Edmondson was not a suitable candidate for probation. He said her criminal history and the facts surrounding the case made it necessary to sentence her to prison.
“The fact is you took advantage of a disabled man,” Smith said. “It wasn’t a casual thing either. You planned this out.”
Smith ordered Edmondson to serve a term of 12 to 24 months in the Nebraska Department of Corrections. She will receive credit for 37 days served in Cass County Jail. She must pay $2,720 in restitution and all court costs after she is released from prison.