Man detained a day after being released on probation | News

A 19-year-old local man was arrested Friday on suspicion of a probation violation, just a day after a Madison County District Court judge decided not to send him to jail.

Ronald Zephier of Madison, formerly of Norfolk, was arrested on Friday after apparently reporting to the Madison Police Department and telling officials he was “high” and needed to go to jail, according to court documents.

Zephier was then transported to Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk for medical evaluation and reportedly tested positive for chemicals which were not immediately disclosed. An affidavit in support of Zephier’s arrest said he was unable to clearly answer questions about his actions or whereabouts in the 24 hours prior to his arrest.

A probation officer attempted to secure Zephier’s placement in a treatment center but was unsuccessful, according to the affidavit, so he was transported to the Madison County Jail.

“At this time, it appears that keeping the defendant in custody may be in his best interests for his safety and the safety of others,” the probation officer said.

District Judge Mark Johnson determined on Friday that there was probable cause to detain Zephier and hold him in jail until he could appear in court.

On Thursday, Zephier was sentenced by District Judge James Kube to 24 months probation for two convictions for possession of methamphetamine, plus theft and criminal mischief.

Madison County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Kiernan had recommended that Zephier serve a 4-year sentence in the Nebraska Department of Corrections. Madison County deputy public defender Chelsey Hartner also said a jail sentence for Zephier would be appropriate.

But Kube, citing his desire to allow Zephier a chance to establish himself as a productive member of society, sentenced Zephier to probation. He had called Zephier a “lost soul” and said probation would give the 19-year-old the opportunity to get structure and support in his life.

“I don’t think you’d do very well in (State) Penitentiary. That doesn’t mean I won’t send you there if you come back before me,” Kube told Zephier during his sentencing hearing. “I don’t think, at this point, that I want to do this without at least giving you the opportunity to change your life a bit.”

The judge asked Zephier to commit to hard work during his probationary period.

“If you come back to me, I could put you in prison for 7 years. Don’t even think about offering me such an option,” he said.

Zephier is being housed at the Madison County Jail and is scheduled to make an appearance on the alleged probation violation on Wednesday, January 26.

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