- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A judge has imposed the same sentence on the second man who as a teenager raped, robbed and bound a Blair woman in a car, which was sent hurtling into the Missouri River.

The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1nE2ofJ ) reports that a judge sentenced 49-year-old Brian D. Smith to 90 years to life in prison Monday for the January 1983 crime that led to the death of 21-year-old Mary Jo Hovendick.

It was the same sentence given to 50-year-old Dale Nollen last month.

The men initially were sentenced to life in prison in May 1983. The new sentences were prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says judges must have the ability to sentence juveniles to something other than an automatic life term.

Smith’s attorney, Jeffrey Pickens of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, noted a difference in the men’s cases. Nollen pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, while Smith pleaded guilty to kidnapping under a plea bargain.

Prosecutor Corey O’Brien of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office said Smith is the one who reached into the car, put it in gear and sent it hurtling into the Missouri River, making his conviction for kidnapping tantamount to a conviction for murder.

Smith held back tears as he told Hovendick’s family that any apology he could give would be empty.

“I’ve accepted that our crimes are unforgivable,” Smith said. “I’m tormented by the pain and shame.”

The men will be eligible for parole in 12 years with credit for time already served. They cannot be released without parole.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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