Friday’s court proceeding for a former Nye County Sheriff’s Office sergeant was postponed after the judge hearing the case reportedly fell ill.
Defendant Michael Horn and his attorney were scheduled to appear before Judge Kim Wanker in court last Friday to discuss possible negotiations in the case.
Horn was arrested Jan. 25, 2014, charged with several drug and theft felonies while on duty.
Nye County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Ferguson said he received word that the judge had to reschedule her calendar due to a medical condition.
“I got an email saying we were changing the hearing and putting it out a week, which should be on for this coming up Friday,” he said. “I was under the impression that Judge Wanker was under the weather last Friday and she simply may not have been up to hearing all of the cases that were originally on the calendar. I wasn’t given any more details than that because the court is free to change its calendar as it sees fit.”
Regarding terms of the possible negotiations, Ferguson said he’d prefer to withhold comment on what may or may not have been discussed with Horn’s legal counsel.
“There is no benefit and only possible downsides commenting on existing negotiations,” he said. “If he accepts it, obviously the negotiations will be made as part of the record. He and his attorney are free to discuss any pending negotiations as they see fit.”
Though details surrounding any negotiations between the state and defense have not been publicly discussed according to Ferguson, a handful of area residents still turned out at the courthouse with signs in hand to protest what they said was leniency toward Horn, who is facing multiple felonies.
Richard Hamilton spoke about the group protest.
“We don’t know what’s in the plea deal yet, because we haven’t gotten word,” Hamilton said. “We heard they were going to drop all the charges except for two felonies, and those two felonies would go in front of the judge and there’s a possibility they could be reduced to gross misdemeanors. I would like to see him be convicted of at least one felony and lose his chance to have another chance at being a cop.”
Horn was arrested after fellow officers orchestrated a sting involving prescription medication being stored in the sheriff’s office’s evidence room.
He was allegedly caught stealing medications earmarked for disposal.
While waiting for Horn to show up for work the day he was arrested, officers learned the sergeant had responded to a call for service at an elderly woman’s home, where he allegedly took prescription medication from the woman after telling her, falsely, it had expired.
The pills were later discovered in his uniform pocket.
Horn was also charged in a separate incident from October 2012, where he collected a load of pills from the home of a woman diagnosed with cancer.
A caregiver, reports indicate, had given Horn the woman’s trove of medicine to dispose of.
It is alleged in charging documents that the sergeant pilfered morphine pills from the cache of medicine.
When he was arrested, police discovered $23,000 worth of allegedly stolen narcotics in Horn’s patrol car, according to a police report on the matter.
He was placed on paid administrative leave after he was given a medical recognizance release from jail.
Horn was charged with oppression under color of office, a gross misdemeanor; and felonies charges for misconduct of a public officer, theft against a person 60 years old or older, theft, possession of a controlled substance, and fraudulent appropriation of property.
Ferguson, meanwhile, noted that discussing any negotiations at present would be premature.
“I don’t want to taint the proceedings or taint the jury pool,” he said. At this point, there is an offer on the table and if he wants to accept it, he can do so this Friday. We are not going to continue this ad-nauseum.”
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes.com