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Trucker facing 9 felony counts challenges findings

Josef Slezak, 36, River Grove, Ill., through defense attorney Kelly Breen filed a plea in abatement during his arraignment Wednesday morning in Cheyenne County District Court.

The Associated Press

10/5/2012

SIDNEY, Neb. — A Chicago-area truck driver facing nine felony counts of manslaughter and vehicular homicide is challenging the findings of his preliminary hearing Monday in Cheyenne County Court.

Josef Slezak, 36, River Grove, Ill., through defense attorney Kelly Breen filed a plea in abatement during his arraignment Wednesday morning in Cheyenne County District Court.

A plea of abatement is a plea entered by a party seeking postponement or dismissal of an action by setting forth some matter or defect regarding procedure, jurisdiction or timing

Slezak is challenging “the sufficiency” of the evidence presented by Cheyenne County Attorney Paul Schaub.

Cheyenne County District Judge Derek Weimer has set the next hearing for Nov. 7 at 10:30 a.m.

Slezak faces four Class III felony charges of manslaughter, another four Class IIIA felony counts of motor vehicle homicide, and one Class IV felony accusation of motor vehicle homicide involving an unborn child.

The nine charges against Slezak, a driver for AKI Trucking of Romeoville, Ill., stem from the Sept. 9 Interstate 80 accident, near Potter, that resulted in the deaths of four family members from Gaithersburg, Md. — Christopher Schmidt, 30; his wife, Diana, 28 and her unborn child of 30 weeks; along with the couple’s children, Samuel, 3, and Conner, 2. — who were relocating to California.

Schaub has also filed amended information that placed willful reckless driving as a possible additional predicate offense for each charge.

If the plea is sustained by Weimer, the charges against Sleazk would be dropped. His arraignment would be continued for arraignment and a subsequent entry of plea, if the motion is overruled.

If found guilty on the charges, Slezak would face sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000 each on all four manslaughter charges, five years in prison and up to $10,000 fines on each on the vehicular homicide counts and a term of up to five years and a fine not to exceed $10,000 on the homicide/unborn child count.

Breen entered a motion for a bond review, as Slezak remained in Cheyenne County Jail on $1 million bond.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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