An Omaha man pleaded no contest in Dodge County District Court on Monday to first-degree sexual assault of a child, a class 1B felony that, under Nebraska law, could yield at least 20 years in prison and at most a life sentence.
Joe R. Lockett, 37, made the plea as part of an agreement with the Dodge County Attorney’s office, acknowledging that he had engaged in sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl in October.
There is no agreement as to sentencing, and District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall ordered a pre-sentence investigation. Sentencing was set for March 11.
The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office arrested Lockett on Oct. 26, 2018, after he was pulled over for driving without exterior lights and for failing to stop at a stop sign, just after leaving the Sapp Bros Truck Stop on Broad Street.
Lockett was driving with a girl in the passenger seat who he identified as his daughter’s friend. Officers learned that this was a lie and that the girl was actually a 15-year-old runaway from Iowa, according to a police affidavit.
The girl subsequently told officers that she had engaged in intercourse with Lockett at a motel in Dodge County and that Lockett was seeking to prostitute her out to other parties for money, according to the affidavit.
Law enforcement additionally reported finding several illicit photos of the juvenile in Lockett’s possession.
After his arrest, Lockett was initially charged with sex trafficking, possession of child pornography and child abuse, and was also deemed eligible for a habitual criminal enhancement, which extends sentences for defendants with several prior felonies, but those charges were not filed as part of Monday’s plea agreement.
In other district court news from Monday:
• Jesse A. Hill, 37, admitted to violating his probation in two separate cases, with both violations relating to the same incident.
Hill’s attorney, Kenny Jacobs, noted that there was no plea agreement, but that Hill would be making his admissions in court anyway, with the expectation that further hearings would be delayed.
Dodge County Chief Deputy Attorney Sara Sopinski also noted that the state would not object to a furlough for Hill to receive inpatient treatment.
Hill’s probation violations occurred after he was caught driving under the influence as a second offense on Oct. 22, 2018.
Hill was serving his probation in relation to two domestic incidents that occurred in March and April of 2018. In the first incident, he attacked a couple in their home with a baseball bat as part of a domestic dispute, and in the second, he returned to the same incident and stabbed three holes into the freezer door of a refrigerator.
Hill was sentenced to 24 months of probation on two charges: second-degree assault and child abuse, with the latter charge stemming from the April incident due to the presence of children.
Hall at the time expressed “deep concerns” about Hill’s ability to complete probation, but noted that he would not “stand in the way” of the Hill’s plea agreement, which called for probation. That agreement had been crafted with the support of the victim and a pre-sentence investigation, attorneys noted at the time.
• Hall agreed to issue a warrant for Raheem S. Howard, 23, who failed to show up for a hearing regarding a motion to revoke his probation. Hall, however, said that he had concerns about how notice for the hearing was sent out and whether Howard had received it.
While Sopinski said a notice had been sent to Howard at the address most recently registered with the probation office, Hall said that the last address he had seen in Howard’s file, recorded during a bond hearing, was different.
“I think it would be better practice in the future to have these people served, but that’s just me,” Hall said.