By Sandy Schroth

Elderly Tilden man sentenced for violating protection order


April 24, 2024

An elderly Tilden man was sentenced in the Antelope County courtroom in Neligh last Wednesday, April 17, to a one-year term of probation for violating a domestic abuse protection order.

The protection order was issued April 13, 2022, and renewed April 13, 2023, in Boone County district court, with the 90-year-old man’s former spouse listed as the protected party. She alleged mental and physical abuse.

Antelope County Attorney Joe Smith said Nebraska probation officials recommended jail in a presentence investigation report. He said a mental health professional had reported the defendant’s attitude “was not getting better” but recommended “some kind of probation.”

Antelope County public defender Pat Carney suggested probation with periodic waiverable jail terms, dependent on his behavior.

Denis F. Kerkman’s opportunity for probation includes many restrictions, designed by the Honorable Donna Taylor as incentives to keep him from further violating a protection order.

Taylor’s March 2024 order requiring Kerkman to wear a GPS monitor became part of probation conditions for 90 days, despite a letter from a Boone County physician claiming the device caused irritation and swelling of his leg. Taylor told Kerkman that probation personnel would apply a different type of device. The monitor will monitor compliance with an order for Kerkman not to be in the city of Neligh, except to drive through on highways 275 and 14 and to attend church Sunday Mass at St. Francis Catholic Church.

Taylor ordered GPS surveillance after she said she received multiple requests from concerned citizens asking protection for Kerkman’s former spouse.

In addition, Kerkman was ordered to serve three 30-day jail stints, to begin July 1 and Oct. 1, 2024, and March 1, 2025, unless waived. Waiver of the jail time will be contingent on good-cause showing that he is compliant with the probation provisions, with no violations related to the GPS monitor, nor with any valid protection orders or any probation conditions.

He was ordered to turn over passwords to his phone and any social media accounts. His phone is subject to search by probation personnel to monitor contact attempts with the victim (or if there are any attempts by her to contact him). He claimed she had called him “305 times.”

Kerkman is ordered to continue counseling with Dr. Sturgis and not discontinue without written permission of a probation officer. He is required to pay probation fees totaling $390, a $1,000 fine and $60 costs.

Kerkman was repeatedly admonished and warned by the judge not to violation provisions of the order.

Kerkman was represented by Antelope County public defender Pat Carney. He was convicted of the crime Jan. 3, his second conviction for violating the same protection order in Antelope County.

Sentencing was twice delayed after a new felony violation of the protection order was filed in Pierce County, the fourth violation alleged there. The order includes two prohibited locations, his former spouse’s Neligh residence and a rural Pierce County residence.


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