Escapee In Court

A prisoner charged with assaulting and kidnapping a Turner County deputy sheriff will receive a preliminary hearing next week on separate burglary and theft charges following his capture Friday in Yankton.

Tyson Wessels, 42, appeared Wednesday in Yankton County Magistrate Court. He faced charges on first-degree burglary, a Class 2 felony, and grand theft from a building of items totaling at least $1,000 and less than or equal to $2,500, a Class 6 felony.

Wessels made his initial appearance Tuesday in magistrate court. He indicated at the time he didn’t want to waive his right to a preliminary hearing, and he reaffirmed that decision during Wednesday’ court appearance.

Magistrate Judge Kasey Sorensen scheduled the preliminary hearing for Oct. 7. The hearing doesn’t decide guilt or innocence, but it does determine if sufficient evidence exists that a crime was committed and that the defendant could have committed it.

The burglary charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a $50,000 fine.

The grand theft charge carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a $4,000 fine.

Wessels remains in custody at the Yankton County Jail and was brought to the courtroom for Wednesday’s hearing. He was represented by Yankton attorney Wanda Howey-Fox.

Wessels was captured Sept. 25 in Yankton after remaining at large for four days. Authorities say he assaulted a Turner County deputy sheriff Sept. 22. The deputy was transporting Wessels and another prisoner from a court appearance in Parker back to the Minnehaha County Jail in Sioux Falls.

Wessels then stole the patrol car on Interstate 29 south of Sioux Falls and escaped the scene, authorities said. He later stole two other vehicles while leading authorities on a manhunt through South Dakota and Minnesota, authorities said.

Wessels was already wanted on charges and warrants in Yankton, Clay and Lincoln counties. Other charges may be added in relation to the escape and manhunt.

Wessels’ burglary and theft charges in Yankton County arose from his arrest around 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at 500 W. Fourth Street in Yankton. A number of law enforcement officers, including the U.S. Marshal Service, located and arrested Wessels.

The Yankton Police Department (YPD) served as the lead agency in apprehending Wessels. Authorities said it went without incident.

The first-degree burglary charge includes the infliction of injury on another person, with the possession of a weapon or at night time.

According to court records, Wessels was taken into custody in Yankton on Sept. 25 by the U.S. Marshall Service. He was a suspect in the burglary at Walt’s Homestyle Foods in Yankton because of a stolen Lincoln County license plate located at the burglary scene.

In addition, a witness who described the silver van inside the garage at Walt’s the morning of the burglary. Wessels was believed to have stolen a silver van in Minnesota.

At the time of Wessels’ arrest, he had on him a thumb drive with the Walt’s name on it. Authorities were told Wessels had the wallet of the stolen van’s owner. In addition, a soft-sided cooler with numerous packages of Walt’s products was found inside the vehicle where Wessels was arrested.

At approximately 7 p.m. Sept. 25, Detective Sgt. Dean Larson of the Yankton Police Department met with Wessels in the Yankton County Jail, according to court records.

Larson said he read Wessels his Miranda rights, and Wessels agreed to speak with the law enforcement officer.

Larson asked about the Walt’s burglary, and Wessels denied having any knowledge of it. Larson asked Wessels how he could explain having a Walt’s thumb drive in his possession at the time of the arrest. Wessels stated he bought the thumb drive, but Larson replied it made no sense for him to buy a thumb drive with the Walt’s name on it.

“I asked Mr. Wessels how he would explain the stolen license plate from the front of the van being left inside Walt’s garage. Mr. Wessels looked at me and then looked down,” Larson said in the court records. “I told Mr. Wessels the delivery guy described the van he stole being inside the garage. Mr. Wessels continued to look down.”

In the court records, Larson said he inquired about any accomplices.

“I asked Mr. Wessels who helped him. Mr. Wessels shook his head ‘no,’” Larson said. “I asked Mr. Wessels if he did the burglary by himself. Mr. Wessels said ‘yes.’ I asked him again if anyone else helped him. Mr. Wessels said ‘no.’”

Larson said he asked the suspect where the van was located. Wessels wouldn’t answer and rose to get a drink.

“Mr. Wessels then told me he was done talking to me,” Larson said.

After the completion of Wednesday’s hearing, Wessels was returned to the Yankton County Jail.

He is scheduled to appear today (Thursday) for arraignment in First Circuit Court on four other Yankton County charges. Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering is scheduled to preside over those proceedings.

According to the Yankton County clerk of courts office, the four charges include the following:

• Grand theft totaling $5,000-100,000.01, a Class 4 felony, with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a $20,000 fine;

• Receiving a stolen vehicle, a Class 5 felony, with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a $10,000 fine;

• Two counts of possession of a firearm by a person with a prior felony drug conviction, a Class 6 felony, with each count carrying a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a $4,000 fine.

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