The official misconduct bench trial of Dawes County Sheriff Karl Dailey began Tues and is expected to wrap up today in Dawes County Court, although Judge Randin Roland of Sidney might not hand down his decision until later.
Dailey is accused of violating state law by refusing to accept a prisoner into the jail in July 2019. 33-year old Jesse Sierra of Pine Ridge had been injured while being arrested for kidnapping and assaulting Rapid City woman missing for a week
Although Sierra had been cleared for release by a hospital, Dailey said he wouldn’t accept him as a prisoner because the Dawes County jail lacks medical facilities. The trooper handling Sierra testified he was also turned down by the Sheridan and Box Butte County jails before finally taking the prisoner to Scotts Bluff County.
The first several hours of the trial yesterday featured testimony from Chadron police officers and Nebraska State troopers what happened when the woman had come to the hospital with significant injuries and recounted her ordeal with Sierra.
Since the Chadron police took the initial report, Chief Tim Lordino took the lead role in the case and asked the State Patrol to respond to the Crawford motel. Neither agency contacted Dailey, whose office provides law enforcement services to Crawford under contract and who felt it was an intentional and unprofessional snub.
. Dailey launched expletive-laced tirades in person to a State Patrol lieutenant and over the phone to Troop E Captain Kurt Von Minden, who recounted the incident on the stand.
The final 2-½ hours of Tuesday’s session was the playing of audio recordings by NSP investigator Chad Elwood of North Platte of 2 conversations with Dailey apparently made without the sheriff’s knowledge a couple months later – after a complaint had been filed with the attorney general’s office.
The two men had never met and Dailey said he had no idea what the complaint was about, but his comments indicated he thought it was about either his not being notified, even as a courtesy, by the other agencies working in his jurisdiction or his behavior to the patrol captain and lieutenant.
In a casual and rambling conversation with Elwood, Dailey said he’d been that angry only 3 other times in his 40-plus years in law enforcement and recounted in colorful language his deep, bitter, and long standing personal and professional dislike of Chief Lordino and of the command level of the state patrol.
The first mention of not accepting Sierra as a prisoner didn’t come until early in the second recording. After the subject was raised, Dailey said that in hindsight, his anger toward Lordino and the top echelon of the patrol might have influenced his decision not to accept him..
Dailey said technically, maybe he should have booked Sierra then transferred him to Scotts Bluff County as he had frequently done with other prisoners who might have injuries since his jail has no medical facilities and the one in Gering does.
He also explained to investigator Ellwood that financial considerations also come into play in such decisions because if Dawes County accepts a prisoner in the jail, it’s responsible for whatever medical expenses that inmate may incur.
Prosecutor Corey O’Brien, head of the Attorney General’s Criminal Bureau prosecuting, told Judge Roland before playing the second recording that he expected to need about 90 minutes in the morning to wrap up his case.
Defense attorney Charles Brewster of Kearney told the judge he would likely up to 2-hours to present his side of the case.
The courtroom is open to the public, but is currently limited to 6 people socially distanced in the audience because of coronavirus concerns.