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Gaastra man sent to prison in Wisconsin

August 30, 2012
By NIKKI YOUNK - Staff Writer , The Daily News

FLORENCE, Wis. - A Gaastra man has been sentenced to serve a term in the Wisconsin prison system for charges stemming from a July 8 high speed chase in Florence County.

Jeremiah Lynn Rockwood, 23, must serve two and a half years in prison, two years of extended supervision, and three years of probation. If he violates his probation, he will automatically have to serve an additional two and a half years in prison and two and a half years of extended supervision.

As part of a plea deal, Rockwood pleaded no contest to felony counts of causing a soft tissue injury while resisting and obstructing a police officer, fleeing and eluding a police officer, and operating a vehicle without owner consent. In addition, he pleaded guilty to a traffic citation of operating while intoxicated.

Florence County District Attorney Douglas Drexler agreed to dismiss two additional felony counts, three additional misdemeanor counts, and seven additional traffic citations against Rockwood.

During sentencing in Florence County Court, Drexler argued that Rockwood's high speed chase put the community and deputies from the Florence County Sheriff's Department at risk.

He added that Rockwood has a history of criminal activities, including unlawfully driving away a vehicle, criminal sexual conduct, larceny, and controlled substance possession.

"Based upon his conduct and based upon his record, I believe we need to send a message," Drexler told the court.

Rockwood's attorney Michael Scholke agreed that his client's actions were serious.

"There were bruises, cuts, and scrapes to the officers," he said. "Fortunately, it wasn't worse."

But, Scholke added that Rockwood's root problems stem from drug and alcohol use. To put him in prison might make matters worse, he added.

"These are problems better addressed in the community, not prison," said Scholke. "I'm worried prison will be more like a criminal finishing school for him."

When given a chance to speak, Rockwood apologized to the community and the deputies.

Judge Leon D. Stenz acknowledged Scholke's argument that Rockwood needs to be rehabilitated, since he will, at some point, be released into the community.

However, Judge Stenz believed that Rockwood's criminal history points not to substance abuse, but to someone who simply has a disregard for others' property and safety.

Judge Stenz then structured a sentence consistent with Drexler's recommendation of two and a half years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint in the case, Rockwood was driving slowly on U.S. 2 near Old 69 Road in Spread Eagle, Wis. in the early morning hours of July 8 when he caught the attention of deputies on patrol.

Deputies attempted to initiate a traffic stop on Rockwood's vehicle, but Rockwood continued to travel toward downtown Florence in speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. Once in downtown Florence, Rockwood exited the vehicle and attempted to run away on foot.

Deputies had to deploy a taser twice and physically struggle with Rockwood before they were able to detain and handcuff him.

Later that day, deputies learned that the vehicle Rockwood had been driving was stolen from a Crystal Falls man.

Nikki Younk's e-mail address is



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