2019 Hwy 281 car-jacking leads to prison for Superior man

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 2:33 PM CDT
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A Superior, Neb., man is in prison for felony robbery after a bizarre carjacking incident in April 2019.

James Wheeler, 31, was sentenced last month after he pleaded guilty to the charge in Hall County District Court in Grand Island. In exchange for the guilty plea prosecutors dropped related charges of felony kidnapping, misdemeanor criminal mischief and misdemeanor theft.

A district court judge last month sentenced Wheeler to five to ten years in prison for the robbery conviction.

Wheeler was arrested by Hall County Sheriff’s deputies after a string of events that played out April 15, 2019, on Highway 281 just south of Doniphan.

The sheriff’s office said Wheeler was hitchhiking in Hastings and accepted a ride from a man there. After the two got into a dispute, the driver forced Wheeler out of his vehicle near the intersection of Highway 281 and West Binfield Road, near a local seed corn plant.

Wheeler then reportedly forced a van to stop by standing in traffic. The van was driven by a woman from Shelton, NE. The woman tried to resist, but he was able to enter the van. She then grabbed her infant child and left the van. Wheeler then attempted to take off with the van.

The Honda Odyssey van was equipped with an ignition system that shut the vehicle down once it was separated from the key fob, which the woman had with her. The van shut down after going just a short distance, at which time the carjacker got out of the vehicle.

Hall County deputies arrived shortly after that and arrested Wheeler at gun point.

Wheeler was also arrested in January 2019 for trying to

just north of Hastings. He was convicted on three misdemeanors: criminal trespass, criminal mischief and obstructing a police officer.

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