Sheriff’s deputy testifies in stolen corn caseA Mitchell man is accused of stealing more than 750 bushels of corn from a grain bin.
By: MARCUS TRAXLER , The Daily Republic
A Davison County sheriff’s deputy testified in court Tuesday about a Mitchell man accused of stealing more than 750 bushels of corn from a farmer’s property in October.
Scott Suelflow, 52, is charged with two felonies for grand theft after he allegedly took more than $4,000 worth of corn from a grain bin owned by Gene Stehly in rural Davison County.
During a pretrial hearing at the Davison County Public Safety Center, Judge Sean O’Brien heard testimony from Davison County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Harr about his experiences with the case.
The thefts took place on two nights, Dec. 8 and 9, according to court documents. On Dec. 10, Harr called Suelflow to come into his office. Suelflow allegedly lied about stealing the corn, with Harr writing in a signed affidavit that Suelflow “made up a story about why he was there” and “[Suelflow] said he was chasing a raccoon onto the property,” before later admitting to the crime. Harr had pictures of tire tracks and footprints at the crime scene as evidence.
On Tuesday, Suelflow’s attorney, Doug Papendick, asked more specifically about how Harr read Miranda rights to his client. Harr admitted that he did not have Suelflow read the rights on his own and that he took “about 15-20 seconds” to read him his rights. Harr said Suelflow was never in custody until they returned to the jail. After the judge asked for clarification, Harr said that Suelflow could have left the office before he signed the Miranda rights card.
Harr said he was never aggressive toward Suelflow when he was questioning him about the alleged crime, saying Suelflow was evasive but cooperative. However, a recording that Harr took of the eventual confession revealed that the deputy told Suelflow that his options were becoming limited, saying, “One more chance or we’ll do it the hard way.”
After Suelflow’s admission, the pair traveled out to his house and picked up the sales sheets from the Farmers Alliance Elevator in Mitchell. When they returned to the sheriff’s office, Harr arrested Suelflow. Once in the jail portion of the building, Suelflow made a call to his wife in which he allegedly made incriminating comments about the case. The call was subject to being recorded and Harr said he was able to obtain it as evidence.
Sales sheets show the two loads in question totaled 759.29 bushels, each sold at $5.60 per bushel for a total of $4,252.02.
The judge is also trying to decide whether or not the state will require a written report preceding the testimony of Hollida Wakefield, an expert in forensic psychology. A decision will be made soon and Wakefield, who lives in Northfield, Minn., will testify over the phone later this month when the hearing resumes.
The trial is scheduled to begin in June.