A Fremont man accused of threatening to kill his girlfriend and firing a gun in her direction had his bond reduced in district court on Wednesday.
Joshua D. Henry, 27, also known as Joshua D. Perez, was in jail on bond set for $500,000 with a 10 percent option, but District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall agreed to a request from his defense attorney, Leo Eskey, for a $100,000 bond with a 10 percent option.
The decision came despite objections from the Dodge County Attorney’s office, which cited concerns for the “safety of the community and the victim,” according to Deputy Dodge County Attorney Sara Sopinski.
Henry has entered a not guilty plea.
The charges stem from an incident on March 25, which occurred during an argument between Henry and the alleged victim, who was living with Henry. The Fremont Tribune generally does not name alleged victims of domestic abuse. The alleged events were reported to the Fremont Police Department by the victim on May 4 and were described in an affidavit.
During the argument, which occurred at around 1:30 a.m., Henry loaded a pistol and began waving the gun around, threatening to kill the victim if she left him, the affidavit says. He allegedly fired the gun into the mattress, approximately one foot from where the victim was sitting. The affidavit notes that the bullet went “through the mattress and box spring, the floor and then the mattress and box spring in the basement,” and that a consent search of the house found bullet holes consistent with that description.
After Henry fired the gun, the victim claims that she told Henry she needed to get ready for work, and he responded by saying “good, because you are not leaving me, I will kill you and whoever you are with.”
The victim then left the residence for work, and at approximately 3:33 a.m., she began receiving Facebook messages with a series expletive-laden threats from Henry, in which he explicitly threatened to come to her job to kill her, threatened to kill her mother and promised “an ambush.” Those messages were provided to the police and quoted in the affidavit.
Henry also allegedly sent the victim three pictures of knives.
He is charged with using a weapon to commit a felony, unlawful discharge of a firearm, terroristic threats, third degree domestic assault and stalking, which is enhanced by the use of a firearm.
In his request for a bond reduction, Eskey claimed that Henry had turned himself in voluntarily, cited a light criminal record and said that the current bond was “way beyond the realm of his ability to pay.”
He also stated that Henry had “an extremely good job” with a high wage working in North Dakota oil fields, that required him to be away for three to four weeks at a time, but argued that this would not be an obstacle to his ability to appear in court.
“His employer is aware of these charges, and there’ll be no difficulty with him appearing at all times as directed by the court,” Eskey said.
Last, he said that Henry, who has been in jail for a week, had not been in contact with the victim since these issues were reported.
“I point out to the court that when this event occurred in March, the parties were a couple and the next day, they returned to their relationship, which went on during the entire next month before this matter was ever reported,” Eskey said.
But Sopinski told the court that the delay in reporting came only because the victim feared for her life, and was waiting until Henry left for a work-related trip to ensure her safety.
She also disputed Eskey’s claim that Henry hadn’t been in contact with the victim, claiming that Henry sent her a “taunting” text message, claiming he had not yet been served a protection order. Sopinski also cited three prior instances where Henry failed to appear.
“I believe, your honor, that the bond should remain as set at $500,000, 10 percent, in order to ensure both [Henry’s] appearance and the safety of the community and the victim,” Sopinski told the court. “The underlying allegations are extremely concerning.”
If released on bond, Henry would be required to reside in a specified residence in Ames, Nebraska. After agreeing to the reduction, Hall also ordered that he be required to work for the duration of his time out on bond, and that he not possess any firearm.
“He shall have no contact, whatsoever, via text message, smoke signal, communication in anyway between you and the victim,” Hall told Henry.
In other district court news on Wednesday:
*Zachary Renard, 23, was sentenced to a year in prison based for possession of a controlled substance—methamphetamine. The sentence was based, in part, on Renard’s failure to comply with parts of a pre-sentencing investigation. Hall believed that the presumption of probation associated with his crime was overcome and gave him the prison sentence. Renard has credit for 206 days served and under Nebraska’s Good Time Law will serve a minimum of six months.
* Erich S. Kirchmann, 32, was sentenced to a year in prison for possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, with intent to deliver. The presumption of probation was overcome in part because Kirchmann faces new charges of strangulation, which came after a pre-sentencing investigation into the drug charges occurred. Kirchmann claimed that he had “solid alibis” and was confident that he would not face additional penalties for the new set of charges. Kirchmann has credit for 156 days served and under Nebraska’s Good Time Law, will serve at least six months.