Man pleads not guilty to punching a woman in the face

SHERIDAN — A Banner man accused of punching a female in the face pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and battery on Thursday morning.

Stephen Snyder, 37, entered his plea in 4th Judicial District Court. If convicted, Snyder could go to prison for up to 10 years and accrue $10,000 in fines.

Judge John Fenn continued bond and set the trial for May 9, 2016.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Snyder and the female victim got into an argument while driving along Highway 193. Snyder allegedly pulled the car over and punched the woman in the face, causing severe bleeding that spattered on Snyder and the victim. The woman suffered nose and facial fractures that required reparative surgery.

Snyder told police the woman hit him first and tried to yank the wheel, causing him to accidentally strike her.

Gillette burglar heading to prison

SHERIDAN — A six-month crime spree encompassing burglaries in six counties and multiple states effectively ended Thursday with a suspended prison sentence and probation in 4th Judicial District Court.

Tyrell Legerski, 23, of Gillette, didn’t get off scot-free — he was sentenced last month in Campbell County to 10-13 years in prison for thefts in Gillette. Then, a Crook County court tacked on 10 years of probation for burglaries committed there.

The Sheridan County punishment mirrors the Crook County sentence. Judge John Fenn went along with a plea agreement and issued Legerski a three- to seven-year prison sentence, which was suspended, and 10 years of probation to be served concurrently to the Crook County order. Legerski will owe a Sheridan business owner nearly $4,500 in restitution.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Legerski and an associate, Charles Schuler, broke into Sheridan Tent and Awning in July 2014 and stole thousands of dollars worth of goods.

Over a six-month span in 2014, the duo robbed everything from businesses to museums and churches in Gillette, Sheridan and Spearfish, South Dakota, among other places.

In Campbell County, Legerski stole from Northern Plains Anesthesia, Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, a Pepsi-Cola Distribution Center, an LDS church and Moments for Pawse, and he owes nearly $12,000 in restitution, according to a report in the Gillette News-Record. The Rapid City Journal reported the burglars accounted for approximately $35,000 in stolen goods in Spearfish.

On Thursday, Legerski took full responsibility for his crimes and said he’s dealing with psychological issues through counseling. He went as far as saying he’s thankful he got caught and planned to pay back all restitution. He said he already paid back close to $40,000 in restitution in South Dakota.

“It’s the most shameful thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.

Fenn expressed some reticence with issuing a sentence concurrent to other crimes, wondering aloud whether Legerski would be held accountable for what he did in Sheridan County.

“This wasn’t one stupid decision,” Fenn said, adding the “theft ring” spanned many months and places.

The judge did eventually go along with the plea agreement and wished Legerski the best of luck, reminding him he will still be a relatively young man when he gets out of prison.

Plea entered in felony domestic violence case

SHERIDAN — A man facing his third conviction for felony domestic battery since 2008 pleaded not guilty Thursday morning in 4th Judicial District Court.

William Lowery, 38, of Sheridan, could go to jail for five years and pay $2,500 in fines if found guilty. Judge John Fenn set a trial date of May 9, 2016.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Lowery became violent after drinking on Oct. 31. He allegedly choked and pulled the hair of a female victim, and also said he would kill her. Police noticed the victim had marks on her clavicle and strands of long hair on her sweatshirt.

Lowery provided law enforcement a breath sample, which revealed a 0.27 blood-alcohol content. He has previous convictions for domestic battery in 2013 and 2008, both in Sheridan County.

Defense attorney Stacy Kirven asked Fenn to change Lowery’s $15,000 cash-only bond to a cash or surety option. She said the defendant’s mother and sister both live in Sheridan County and reported the victim regularly calls and requests Lowery be released.

Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney Christopher LaRosa said the state opposed any change in bond. Lowery has a long rap sheet, including battery, aggravated assault, driving under the influence and public intoxication.

The victim’s pleas for Lowery’s release, LaRosa said, stem from financial concerns. Despite a no-contact order from circuit court, Lowery contacted the victim more than 75 times from jail.

Fenn denied the defense’s motion.