Western Nebraska man asks judge to withdraw plea, quash indictment in child death case

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GERING, Nebraska — A man facing trial in the death of a 2-year-old girl is asking a judge to quash the original indictment against him.

A lawyer for Dustin Chauncey, 28, filed motions earlier this month to withdraw Chauncey's not guilty plea and to quash the indictment against him, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/X90jM2 ) Saturday.

A motion to quash argues that errors by a judge or prosecutors in a case should void the charges against a defendant. In Chauncey's case, his attorney argues that the judge acted improperly by appointing a special prosecutor instead of the Scotts Bluff County Attorney's office to oversee his grand jury proceedings.

Chauncey is set to go to trial in late October on a charge of intentional child abuse resulting in the death of Juliette Geurts in July 2008. Chauncey was the boyfriend of the girl's mother, Charyse Geurts, at the time of the girl's death.

An autopsy showed that trauma killed Juliette, and her death was classified as a homicide. But the case languished without arrests until a public petition drive in 2012 gathered enough signatures to force an investigation by a grand jury. The grand jury indicted Chauncey on charges of manslaughter, providing false information and child abuse resulting in death early last year. The girl's mother was indicted on accessory and false reporting charges.

However, a judge dismissed the charges against the girl's mother and all but the abuse charge against Chauncey because the statute of limitations had run out.

If Chauncey is allowed to withdraw his plea and his motion to quash the indictment succeeds, his attorney will seek to dismiss the abuse charge, citing the seven-year statute of limitations on it.


Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com

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