Inmate who assaulted guard during 2015 Tecumseh State Prison riot is sentenced to an additional 10 years

Inmate who assaulted guard during 2015 Tecumseh State Prison riot is sentenced to an additional 10 years
Photo Courtesy: World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN — An inmate convicted of assaulting a prison guard during last year’s riot at the Tecumseh State Prison was sentenced to serve an additional 10 years in prison.

Johnson County District Judge Daniel Bryan on Monday sentenced Roger Weikle for his role in a chain of events that left two inmates dead and more than $2 million in damage to the Tecumseh prison.

A jury in August found Weikle, 60, guilty of assault by a confined person.

During the trial, prosecutors played a videotape recording of the prison yard at the beginning of the riot that showed Weikle charge at a corrections corporal, Joe Hatzenbuehler.

The tape showed Weikle stomp on the officer’s head as Hatzenbuehler wrestled on the ground with another inmate, who had just punched him in the face.

Hatzenbuehler, now a police officer in Schuyler, testified at the trial that Weikle scraped his forehead with his shoe, resulting in a painful injury.

No one has been charged in the riot’s two slayings, but six inmates have been charged with assault or starting fires in connection with the riot, the worst prison uprising in six decades in Nebraska.

Weikle was already serving 72 to 218 years in prison for a variety of offenses, including first-degree murder and escape. Bryan ordered the new sentence to be served after the previous sentences.

Among the other four inmates charged with assault:

Fredrick Gooch, the inmate who prosecutors say threw the initial punch at Hatzenbuehler, has been granted a competency examination. John Zalme, who is accused of striking another corrections officer in the initial melee, is set to stand trial Nov. 14.

Ian Yelton and William Harris both pleaded guilty to reduced charges. Yelton was sentenced to 20 to 60 months for an attempted Class 3 felony and Harris to one year in jail for a misdemeanor assault.

A sixth inmate, Justin Busch, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree arson. No trial date has been set.

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