SEWARD – A jury found Jeffrey Ehrlich guilty of six of the 10 counts he was charged with in connection to a 2019 incident where he used a semi and baseball bat to attack law enforcement officers.
The incident took place Aug. 13, 2019, in the 400 block of East Second Street in Wahoo. Ehrlich allegedly attacked a sheriff’s deputy with a baseball bat and drove his semi into two law enforcement vehicles.
Last Thursday, a jury found Ehrlich guilty of third degree assault on an officer, terroristic threats (two counts), use of a deadly weapon to commit terroristic threats (two counts) and child abuse. A not guilty verdict was returned on one count of terroristic threats and one count of use of a deadly weapon to commit terroristic threats, both for actions allegedly taken against Chad Dailey, a witness to the event.
The jury was deadlocked on two other counts – attempted first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit attempted first degree murder. The judge declared a mistrial for those two counts. Saunders County Attorney Joe Dobesh said Ehrlich will be retried on these two charges later this year. The judge will announce the trial date in October.
“We respect the jury’s decision and look forward to the opportunity to retry Mr. Ehrlich on the two remaining charges,” Dobesh said.
The incident was described in an affidavit filed in court last year. Law enforcement officers were called to the Ehrlich residence after he had allegedly assaulted his son. The report said 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 allegedly 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.
The attempted first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit attempted first degree murder charges stem from the assault on Martin, according to court documents. The terroristic threats charges for which Ehrlich was found guilty were for his assault on Haiar.
The case was tried in Seward County after the defense requested a change of venue in February during a pretrial hearing. Saunders County District Court Judge Christina Marroquin granted the motion. Dobesh said the price tag of holding a trial in another county was nominal because Seward County agreed to house Ehrlich in their jail during the trial, which lasted five days.
“So really the cost to the county was kept to a minimum,” Dobesh said.
The state’s case against Ehrlich was led by Demetria Herman and Darren Hartman from the county attorney’s office. Public Defender Tom Klein and Miranda Rogers represented Ehrlich, who was present during the trial.
The jury was impaneled on the first day of the trial, Aug. 24, after which the prosecution provided evidence and witnesses to prove the charges against Ehrlich for two days. On the third day of the trial the state concluded the prosecution and the defense began to present its case, during which Klein made a motion to dismiss the charges. The motion was denied.
The defense concluded its case on Aug. 26 and the jury was given instructions to determine verdicts on the 10 charges. The jury began deliberations at 4:54 p.m. and worked about three hours without coming up with a verdict. The jurors were dismissed at 8 p.m. and called back the next morning, Aug. 26, at 8:30 a.m.
The jury sent several questions to the judge asking for additional information during deliberations, including requests to view video testimony and notes again, which were all denied. There were also questions about the charge of terroristic threats and what would happen in the event the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
The jury returned its verdict at 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 27, noting it was deadlocked on the attempted murder and use of a weapon to commit attempted murder charges.
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