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State v. Hunnel

Supreme Court of Nebraska

May 29, 2015

STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE,
v.
WARD L. HUNNEL, APPELLANT

Page 443

Appeal from the District Court for Buffalo County: JOHN P. ICENOGLE, Judge.

Nathan T. Bruner, of Greenwall, Bruner & Frank, L.L.C., for appellant.

Jon Bruning, Attorney General, and George R. Love for appellee.

WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, STEPHAN, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ. HEAVICAN, C.J., not participating.

OPINION

Page 444

[290 Neb. 1040] McCormack, J.

NATURE OF CASE

Ward L. Hunnel appeals from his sentences for multiple convictions of felon in possession of a firearm and attempted felon in possession of a firearm. Hunnel presented no evidence at the sentencing hearing other than a newspaper article in which the local police chief described him as a hunting enthusiast who was not a threat to the community. The court refused to enter the newspaper into evidence. Hunnel argues that the court erred in refusing to consider the newspaper article. Hunnel also argues that the court erred in failing to grant him credit for 369 days previously served within the federal system on a federal sentence. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Hunnel pled guilty in the Buffalo County District Court to one count of felon in possession of a firearm, a Class ID felony, and three counts of attempted felon in possession of a firearm, a Class II felony. In exchange, the State dismissed 26 counts of felon in possession of a firearm and changed 3 counts of felon in possession of a firearm to attempted felon in possession of a firearm. The original information was filed on February 15, 2013, and the amended information was filed on April 8, 2014.

The possession charges stem from law enforcement's discovering, on January 22, 2013, 30 weapons and copious amounts of ammunition in the home where Hunnel resided. Hunnel was arrested by the Kearney Police Department on January 24. The presentence investigation report (PSI) indicates that Hunnel was released on bond on February 8, 2013.

Hunnel has a criminal history beginning in 1982. Prior offenses include burglary as a juvenile, careless driving, hunting after hours, driving under suspension, willful reckless driving, criminal mischief, attempted third degree assault, disturbing the peace, violations of hunting and fishing regulations, issuing bad checks, intimidation

Page 445

by telephone call, [290 Neb. 1041] impersonating a public servant, violation of a protection order, violating motor carrier safety regulations, and multiple probation violations. In 2006, Hunnel was convicted on a federal charge of " Illegal Import of Wildlife" and was placed on 5 years' probation. That probation was subsequently revoked on August 11, 2008, and he served an 11-month sentence in the Bureau of Prisons.

The PSI noted that Hunnel has had problems with compliance when sentenced to probation. This included law violations as well as leaving the state without authorization, failing to file monthly supervision reports, neglecting to notify his probation officer of a change of address, and failing to pay restitution. In addition, the PSI found Hunnel to be at " Very High Risk" under the category of " Pro-Criminal Attitude/Orientation." The PSI stated that Hunnel did not take responsibility for his actions leading to the possession charges in Buffalo County and that Hunnel considered those actions to be " victimless crime[s]." The PSI indicates that when not in prison, Hunnel earned his living purchasing and selling animal hides across the Midwest.

The PSI shows that on December 10, 2013, Hunnel was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, followed by 3 years' supervised release, on a " Weapons Offense" in federal court. This conviction arose out of ...


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