SEWARD – A man found guilty of several counts stemming from an incident where a semi was used to attack law enforcement officers was sentenced to over a decade in jail.
On Oct. 5, Jeffrey Ehrlich was sentenced in Saunders County District Court to 11 to 13 years on six charges that were leveled against him following an incident last year.
Saunders County Attorney Joe Dobesh said he is pleased with the verdict.
“This was in the range we were looking for and we are satisfied with the outcome on those counts,” he said in an email last week.
The incident took place Aug. 13, 2019, in the 400 block of East Second Street in Wahoo. Details of the incident were released in an affidavit filed in court last year. Law enforcement officers were called to the Ehrlich residence after he had reportedly assaulted his son. Ehrlich had called a neighbor to tell them he’d attacked his son. In that phone call he also said that the Wahoo Police Department “was going down” and he was ready to die.
Ehrlich was in his semi when James Haiar, a Saunders County Sheriff’s deputy, arrived on the scene. Ehrlich got out of the vehicle with an aluminum baseball bat and struck the deputy in the chest. The suspect then jumped back into the semi and drove directly at a Wahoo Police cruiser. Wahoo Officer Ryan Martin was out of the vehicle and ran into a yard and behind a tree, but Ehrlich continued pursuing in the semi, driving over the curb and stopping about five feet from the officer.
Ehrlich then put the semi in reverse and headed towards the police cruiser and the deputy’s vehicle. He collided with the vehicles, pushing them about 30 feet. The suspect attempted to drive away, but the semi was attached to the cruiser. He was taken into custody by Haiar and Martin.
Erhlich was sentenced to five to six years in the state correctional system on two counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, which were ordered to be served consecutively. He also was sentenced to one year in prison to be served concurrently for each of the following charges: assault on an officer, terroristic threats (two counts) and child abuse.
In the sentencing order, Saunders County District Court Christina Marroquin stated that Ehrlich was not a candidate for probation because it was likely he would engage in additional criminal activity while on probation. She also noted that a lesser sentence would “depreciate the seriousness of the crime.”
Erhlich’s attorneys, Public Defender Tom Klein and Miranda Rogers, filed on Oct. 6, along with a notice of poverty, stating Erhlich had no income or assets.
The defendant was found not guilty by the jury on one count of terroristic threats and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.
The jury was deadlocked on two counts against Ehrlich – attempted felony and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony – and a mistrial was declared for both. Dobesh said Ehrlich will be tried again on these charges. The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 8 in Seward County. The original trial was held in Seward County after the defendant requested and was granted a change of venue during a pretrial hearing in February. Marroquin presided over the trial.
Although moving a trial to a different county can be expensive and challenging, Dobesh said the Ehrlich case has gone smoothly, in part because Seward County offered to house the defendant during the August trial and will do so again in December.
“We have a great partner in Seward County and I would thank them for their efforts in keeping the cost of this trial as low as possible,” he said.
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