KEARNEY — The state Court of Appeals has upheld University of Nebraska Regent Kent Schroeder’s misdemeanor shovel theft conviction.
In an opinion released today, the court of appeals affirmed the decision of District Court Judge Derek Weimer of Sidney who said Schroeder’s appeal was without merit. Schroeder could ask the Appellate Courts to reconsider the decision. Schroeder declined to comment.
In June 2011, Schroeder was found guilty of misdemeanor theft for stealing a $30 shovel from a neighbor near a duplex he owns in the 400 block of West 26th Street.
Schroeder’s attorney and son-in-law, Brandon Brinegar of Kearney, had earlier argued during Schroeder’s original 2011 trial that special Buffalo County Court Judge Linda Caster Senff of Central City made three errors: that special prosecutor Kurt McBride of Lexington didn’t have authority to prosecute a Kearney city ordinance violation, that there was insufficient evidence to convict Schroeder, and that McBride failed to show the crime occurred within the Kearney city limits.
However, the court of appeals ruled Schroeder failed to file an appropriate motion in the case, and that there was sufficient evidence to support Caster Senff’s verdict.
Caster Senff and Weimer were both appointed to preside over Schroeder’s trial and appeal because Schroeder, a Kearney attorney, regularly practices law in Buffalo County. All documents were filed in Buffalo County.
During his hour-long testimony at the five-hour 2011 trial, Schroeder admitted walking into Michael Lohmann’s home Feb. 26, 2011, to see if there was asbestos in the house. Schroeder had earlier talked with homeowner and former law associate Vikki Stamm about possibly purchasing the house.
After a January fire, Schroeder assumed no one was living in the house because of the damage. He said he was simply borrowing the shovel. Schroeder went back to his duplex next door where he said he scooped the steps.
Then, running short on time, he put the shovel inside one of his duplexes. It wasn’t until a day after the shovel was taken, and after a friend of Lohmann’s had confronted Schroeder, that Schroeder returned the shovel to Lohmann.