Photo by Lincoln County Detention Center
Edward D. Hagert
Photo by Lincoln County Detention Center
Derick E. Wright
At 4:37 p.m. Tuesday, the North Platte police received information that Edward Hagert was in a white vehicle, parked in the mobile home park on 2300 E. Philip.That was good news to the cops.
Hagert has been convicted of meth charges, but he failed to appear in court July 24. The law has looked for him since.
Hagert, 38, was one of a handful of suspects in the North Platte area who was arrested Feb. 23, 2016 after a massive, year-long methamphetamine investigation across central and western Nebraska and northeast Colorado.
In all, 63 people were charged with distribution. Most of them were taken to federal prison, facing charges in the federal District Court in Omaha. Hagert, however, went to court in Lincoln County, where he was convicted of a lesser charge -- attempted manufacture, delivery and distribution of meth.
Also, it looked like he was dramatically changing his life for the better. At his sentencing on Sept. 12, 2016, Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling admitted that Hagert had availed himself to “all sorts of treatment programs” during the seven months before his sentencing.
Defense Attorney Amanda Speichert presented letters from Lutheran Family Services that verified he completed addiction treatment programs. She said he did everything he could “right out of the box,” by taking responsibility for his actions, making self-improvements and holding down a job.”
“He has worked every day and then reported to the jail for testing,” Speichert said. “He has tested negative every time. I have never seen these (substantial) changes in a man and his family in my 16 years in law.”
Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands sentenced Hagert to 36 months’ probation and 51 days in jail and warned him not to mess up.
However, in December Hagert was charged with violating a protection order. He pled not guilty. As the case proceeded through the courts, he failed to appear for a hearing in July, and dropped out of sight.
When police arrived at the mobile home park, they saw a white Hyundai Elantra registered to a family member of Hagert leave the park at a high rate of speed, police spokesman John Deal said.
Officers gave chase. The car turned south on Tabor from E St., drove to Philip turned west to Poplar, turned south to Francis and then turned east.
That road is a dead end. It is being extended to Tabor and currently under construction, but traffic is barricaded. Nevertheless, the car drove through the barricades and bounced across rough terrian for about three blocks, eventually turning onto Tabor once again. Deal said other officers were there. They saw the car go into the parking lot of the Prairie View Townhouses, a block or so north, at 1100 S. Tabor.
When police caught up, they found the car already unoccupied. They secured the area and talked to people outside, who described a man who got out the car and ran into the apartment building. Police determined he had likely gone into Apt. 1115, Deal said.
When police went to the apartment, they found Stephanie Martinez and Amy Peck inside. They did not go in, but they coudl see a man, identified as Derick Wright, on the couch. Wright fit the description of witnesses who saw a man run from the vehicle, Deal said.
Deal said Wright was detained and questioned, and gave varying stories of why and how he got to the apartment.
Martinez and Peck were questioned about Hagert’s whereabouts. They repeatedly told officers he wasn't in the apartment. They denied consent to search the place, Deal said.
Deal said it "became rather apparent" that Hagert was in the apartment, so an officer yelled for him to come out, and Hagert eventually appeared from upstairs. He was taken into custody without further incident.
Back at the car, a handgun was found on the driver's seat. It was loaded, and the serial number was scratched off, Deal said.
Deal said officers questioned all the people involved and received inconsistent information and varying accounts of what happened.
Hagert was initially charged with possession of a defaced firearm. However, when he appeared in court Thursday, he was charged and convicted of unauthorized use of a credit card on Aug. 6 at the Flying J Travel Center. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail for that crime and ordered to pay $209.68 in restitution. However, he will be in jail longer. He is held without bond for the charges of violating probation and failure to appear in court, Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Tonya Roberts-Connick said.
Wright, the driver, was charged with harboring a fugitive and possession of a defaced firearm. Peck and Martinez were charged with harboring a fugitive.
Also, Deal said more charges could be coming. Drug related items were seized that were sent to the Nebraska Crime Lab for testing to confirm the presence and type of drug residue.
Deal said the suspects gave varying accounts of who did what, so specific charges could change as investigators sort through information and look more closely at the evidence.