11th Judicial sentences man for child neglect

11th Judicial sentences man for child neglect

11th Judicial sentences man for child neglect

Dustin James Tubergen, 30, experienced a day of reckoning on Monday. He came to the 11th Judicial courtroom to face sentencing for the unlawful use of a controlled substance.

But a second charge against the defendant generated more heat in the chilly room.

Judge Jim Shirley would also sentence Tubergen for child neglect. On July 13, 2017, the defendant’s children were unable to wake their father.

“My girls mean the world to me,” said the defendant. “But I fell asleep on them.”

Deputy DA Jack Bullock and Public Defender Steve Cochran crossed swords over the proper resolution of the case. Each argued with passion.

“The gist of this case is that Mr. Tubergen was under the influence around his children,” said Cochran.

“This is a neglect case – it is not an abuse case. Nobody suffered any actual harm,” continued the defense attorney.

He asked the Court to look at the incident “not as a criminal act but as a health issue.”

“Mr. Tubergen’s addiction rendered him incapable of providing that level of care,” said Cochran. “This is one of those health matters that end up in the criminal justice system.”

He asked the Court to grant probation.

Deputy DA Jack Bullock disagreed with several of Cochran’s conclusions.

“I acknowledge that no one was

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injured,” he began. “The children acted in a way consistent with their instincts and sought help. It could have been much worse.”

The State introduced two exhibits to the Court – a toxicology screen and a photo of the defendant from the day of his arrest.

“These exhibits show that Mr. Tubergen needs serious drug rehabilitation,” said Bullock.

After his arrest, the defendant served eighteen days in the Pershing County Jail. As a condition of his release, the Court required Tubergen to get a psychosexual evaluation at his own expense. The Court also restricted him to supervised visitation with his children.

The Deputy DA pointed to one of the evaluator’s statements. She wrote about the defendant’s difficulty in staying sober. And she described Tubergen’s reluctance to pursue long-term in-patient treatment.

“He doesn’t feel like he needs any help,” said Bullock.

Cochran objected.

“Your Honor, that’s not what’s before us,” he said. “The evaluator said Mr. Tubergen is reluctant to do in-patient treatment. But he’s in drug counseling, so that’s just not correct.”

Bullock fired back with a counterargument.

“In my opinion, the psychosexual evaluator expressed this guy needs more than what he’s doing; more than he’s willing to do,” he said.

The State recommended the maximum sentence, 29 -72 months.

“We certainly request that you suspend that sentence and place him on probation for the maximum period,” Bullock said to the Judge.

“But he needs something hanging over his head. If he comes back before us again I’m going to advocate for a lot harsher punishment,” he added.

The Judge prepared to pass sentence. First, he acknowledged the defendant’s right to allocution.

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” he asked Tubergen.

“I know deep down I don’t ever want to use again,” said the defendant. “I feel like a piece of work for what I did to my kids. I told the evaluator lady that I do feel I need counseling to help me with other problems.”

“I’ve had six months clean, got out of Lovelock and moved to Fernley. I’ve got a good job and am working every day, I don’t have time to screw up,” concluded the defendant.

The Judge sentenced Tubergen to 12-36 months, suspended. He’ll serve probation, not to exceed five years. The Department of Parole and Probation may restore Tubergen’s full parental rights, dependent on his progress.

Judge Shirley enforced the standard terms and conditions of probation. Tubergen must refrain from drugs and alcohol. He’ll be subject to intensive urinalysis.

And the Judge added one more requirement.

“I want you to get involved in counseling to address the abuse and neglect you experienced as a child,” he said.

“The way I view it a lot of what we’re seeing here today is a result of things that happened to you,” said the Judge. “Until you deal with those issues you’re going to have problems staying clean and sober.”