As she walked into an Anoka County courtroom to hear the jury's verdict Friday, Rebecca Treptow insisted she was "absolutely innocent."
Accused of pointing a loaded 9-millimeter handgun at another motorist in February, she refused a plea deal months ago that probably would have meant no jail time. But on Friday, jurors took less than four hours to convict her of assault and two other charges, which will send her to prison for at least three years.
Between sobs, Treptow repeatedly yelled, "I didn't do this, I didn't do this!" Judge Sean Gibbs denied bail, saying she was a risk to public safety.
The trial lasted two days, and came down to which of two versions of events the jury believed. From the time she was arrested, Treptow consistently denied the charges against her. The other motorist, Nicole Hedblum, said she saw the weapon aimed at her head after she honked at Treptow to warn her that she was veering off Hwy. 10 in Coon Rapids. Police found a gun in Treptow's sport utility vehicle shortly after Hedblum called 911.
"Good for the jurors. Good for them. They found the truth. I had nothing to lie about," Hedblum said in an interview several hours after the verdict came in. "I hope she rots for a while."
Martin Treptow, Rebecca's husband, had tears running down his face when the verdict was delivered. Five years ago, he shot an undercover police officer in the leg after a heated argument in an apparent road rage case in Coon Rapids. He eventually pleaded guilty to reckless discharge of a firearm and served about a month in jail. He declined to comment Friday.
Seth Cobin, Rebecca Treptow's attorney, said that there are "ample grounds" for appeal and that he didn't feel the evidence supported the verdict. Treptow was convicted of felony second-degree assault and terroristic threats and a misdemeanor dangerous-weapon violation.
Prosecutor Kurt Deile said he was pleased with the verdict but acknowledged it was a difficult case. Reiterating a point he made in closing arguments, he said he didn't have to prove why Treptow brandished her gun, just that she intended to assault or threaten Hedblum. Deile also prosecuted her husband's case.
Plea deal offer
The Anoka County attorney's office offered Rebecca Treptow a plea deal that would have capped jail time at 113 days, but probation was a realistic outcome. During a break in the trial Wednesday, Treptow told a reporter that she would be perjuring herself if she took the deal because she never brandished a gun. She testified that the gun, for which she has a conceal-and-carry permit, was in her SUV because of past run-ins with a stalker.
Cobin challenged Hedblum on how she could see the gun through heavily tinted windows but couldn't describe the gun's color or Treptow's physical features to police. One of the officers who took a statement from Hedblum said in his report that he believed a second-degree assault charge "did not seem to exactly fit in this case."
Awaiting the verdict
Waiting outside the courtroom before the verdict, Treptow said she wrote down every detail of the incident while she was in jail for two days after her February arrest. During the trial, she referred to a large notebook filled with highlighted documents from the case.
On Friday, her husband arrived minutes before the verdict was read. She kissed him and said, "I'm scared."
When the judge denied bail, she pleaded for a temporary release so she could figure out arrangements for her three special-needs children.
"I promise I will come back for sentencing," she told the judge. "This will kill my kids."
The judge said that he was sympathetic but that the circumstances of the case warranted her being jailed.
Hedblum said that she "didn't know Treptow from Adam" and that she had no reason "to affect her life" when she called 911 after the incident. She said she didn't even know police had found a gun in the SUV the day Treptow was arrested.
"I have nothing against people who want to own guns," Hedblum said. "They just shouldn't point them at people because they piss them off."
David Chanen 612-673-4465