Woman gets limited jail time, probation in road rage case

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2012 - 9:49 PM

Facing a mandatory three-year sentence for pointing a loaded gun at another motorist, Rebecca Treptow started to plead her case Tuesday. Shortly into it, after speaking of one of her sons, she faltered and couldn't continue.

When Anoka County Judge Sean Gibbs asked if she had anything more to say, she replied, "I just want to go home to my children."

Treptow mostly got her wish when Gibbs departed from the state sentencing guideline and ordered 100 days in jail plus seven years' probation. Treptow has served 15 days, and the rest will be done through work release and home monitoring.

Although Gibbs said that the crime was "very, very, very serious" and that Treptow had put public safety at risk, he decided she was amenable to probation. He was following a pre-sentencing recommendation of probation.

Unlike last month, when Treptow screamed her innocence to the courtroom after being convicted of second-degree assault and two other charges, she showed little emotion when Gibbs announced the sentence. Seth Cobin, her lawyer, said he wasn't surprised by the sentence because judges often follow pre-sentencing recommendations.

"We were hoping for the best," he said.

Gibbs offered little explanation in court for his decision. He said that the sentencing was difficult from a judge's perspective and that he was upset when he noticed Treptow had been involved in a road rage incident in 2009. It didn't involve a gun and she wasn't charged with a crime.

Because she didn't have a significant criminal history, Gibbs said Treptow "wasn't a typical second-degree assault defendant." He said he was fairly confident she was amenable to probation, "if for no other reason for your children." She has three children with special needs and recently found out she is seven weeks pregnant.

In a report to the Legislature in January, the state's Sentencing Guideline Commission said judges departed on sentences in second-degree assault cases more than 50 percent of the time. The report didn't indicate the degree of the departures.

Treptow, 33, will be required to attend anger management therapy. She was released from jail Tuesday, but Gibbs ordered that police officers escort her home and confiscate any guns inside. Cobin told Gibbs there weren't any guns in the house.

Incident on Hwy. 10

The incident occurred in February. Nicole Hedblum said she honked her horn to alert Treptow that her SUV was veering off Hwy. 10 in Coon Rapids. Hedblum said Treptow pulled alongside her car and pointed a handgun. Hedblum followed Treptow to a cul-de-sac, where Treptow asked, "Why are you following me?" and Hedblum asked why Treptow pointed a gun at her.

Treptow was arrested after officers found a loaded 9-millimeter handgun in her vehicle. Treptow has consistently denied she pointed the gun, but acknowledged she had one in the SUV for protection after past run-ins with a stalker. She has a carry-and-conceal permit.

Prosecutor Kurt Deile asked for the three-year sentence because he said Treptow escalated her level of violence from her previous road rage incident. Cobin argued for probation, listing mental and physical issues ranging from post-traumatic stress syndrome to a heart condition that would be difficult to treat in prison. He discussed her large circle of family support and said that she has lots of reasons to be on the "straight and narrow."

After the hearing, Deile said he respected the judge's decision and hoped Treptow does well on probation.

Hedblum said she missed the hearing because she was sent to the wrong courtroom, but had planned to give a short impact statement.

"I don't have any feelings one way or the other," she said during a telephone interview. "I don't think it is necessarily fair. But I'm not the judge. He did what he felt was right."

She was sympathetic to Treptow's situation because she also has children. Yet, she said, Treptow could have jeopardized the safety of a son who was in the SUV.

Treptow's trial came five years after her husband shot an undercover police officer in the leg after a heated argument in a road rage case in Coon Rapids. Her husband ultimately pleaded guilty to reckless discharge of a firearm. The other driver was indicted in the case but the charge was dismissed.

Defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who was not a part of the current case, said sentencing departures are warranted in many situations.

Cases involving a mandatory minimum sentence create a problem because each case doesn't have the same circumstances, he said.

"Gibbs is a smart judge," said Tamburino, who has appeared before him. "If he departed, he must have had a good reason."

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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