A 29-year-old man will serve at least 27½ years in prison for the death of a Bellevue woman.
Jefferson D. Potter of Lincoln addressed family members of the victim, Jennifer Siemens, before he was sentenced Tuesday in Douglas County District Court.
“I know that it doesn’t mean anything to you,’’ he said, “but I’m sorry. If I could give my life to bring her back, I would.’’
Potter was convicted of manslaughter in the June 7 death of Siemens, 28.
She died in a four-vehicle crash at Saddle Creek Road and Leavenworth Street in Omaha. Three other people, including her boyfriend, Ryan M. Ashburn, were injured in the crash.
Matt Kuhse, assistant Douglas County attorney, said Potter stole a lawn service pickup truck that was parked near 33rd and Arbor Streets. Minutes later, the pickup was involved in the fatal crash.
Potter’s attorney, Leslie Cavanaugh, said Potter chose to enter a no contest plea rather than put the Siemens family through a trial.
“From the beginning he let me know that he wanted to plead to the charges,” she said. “He makes no excuses for the conduct that happened that day. He is mortified by his conduct.”
Potter was sentenced by District Judge J Russell Derr to 20 years for manslaughter, 10 years for possession of a weapon by a felon and 20 years for theft over $1,500.
The sentences will be served consecutively, but under state sentencing guidelines Potter could be eligible for parole in 2041.
Ruth Siemens, mother of the victim, said the sentences were “stronger than we thought they would be.’’
She said the family hopes Potter, an admitted methamphetamine addict, will get rehabilitation help in prison.
“We know that he’ll spend 27½ years in prison,” she said. “We hope he learns his actions have consequences and gets the help he needs.”
Potter has a long criminal history, including seven previous felony convictions, prosecutors said.
He has numerous theft charges on his record, the first going back to when he was 18. In 2005, he was sentenced to a year in prison for theft. He was on parole when the crash happened.
Potter will be credited with 214 days served in jail. He still awaits sentencing for the parole violation.