Sidney’s former police chief continues to appeal verdict

SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) - Sidney’s former police chief has filed a challenge to his conviction and 30-day jail sentence for obstructing government operations.

The lawyer for Byron Wilkinson filed the appeal in the Nebraska Appeals Court earlier this month.

Wilkinson was convicted July 17, after pleading no contest. The charge stems from what state prosecutors said was Wilkinson’s failure to pursue a criminal case against then-city Public Works Director John Hehnke, after Hehnke’s ex-girlfriend filed a criminal complaint against Hehnke in January 2014. Wilkinson instead handled the matter administratively and didn’t seek charges.

Concerns about Wilkinson’s decision were brought to the attention of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.

Earlier this year, a special prosecutor charged Hehnke, accusing him of “window peeping” at his ex-girlfriend’s house when she was partially disrobed. Hehnke pleaded no contest in April, was convicted of disturbing the peace and fined $300. He’s since been fired.

The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reports that (http://bit.ly/1mC9PDP ) Wilkinson’s appellate brief includes arguments he made in an unsuccessful appeal to the Cheyenne County District Court, including his assertion that 30 days in jail was an excessive punishment. Wilkinson argues that he did not cause or intend to cause any serious harm to anyone, had no criminal history and that putting him behind bars wasn’t necessary to protect the public.

Court records show the case hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing and that the prosecutor, Nebraska Assistant Attorney General Doug Warner, has not filed his brief.

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