Angry driver gets a year in prison — (Las Vegas Sun)

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Las Vegas Sun

Sunday, June 25, 2000 | 4:35 a.m.

Reno Municipal Court Judge Ken Howard handed down the sentence Friday to Jon Jensen, 29, who was convicted of disturbing the peace.  Prosecutors said the sentence sends a message to other motorists about the consequences of road rage.

On May 2, Jensen followed one motorist home, dragged her out of her car and punched her in the face, breaking her glasses.

On April 9, he got out of his car and pounded on another vehicle, and later nearly rammed another car with two children inside.

“One thing we can be thankful for is no one was hurt any more than they were,” Howard said.

Jensen lawyer Dennis Cameron maintained his client was out of control because he mixed an anti-depressant drug with alcohol.

“I really am sorry for all you folks,” Jensen said. “I want to start a new life.”

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Reno road-rage assailant gets a year in jail

Reno Gazette-Journal (NV)

June 24, 2000


A 29-year-old Reno man inflicted “absolute terror and horror” on motorists and others during a road rage rampage this spring through Reno and now must spend a year in jail for his crime, a judge ruled Friday.

“One thing we can be thankful is no one was hurt any more than they were,” Reno Municipal Court Judge Ken Howard said.

The road rage conviction of Jon Jensen, whom witnesses described as a “time bomb,” is one of the first significant punishments handed out for the current epidemic of road violence nationwide, local prosecutors and lawyers say.

Attorney William Gardner, formerly hief criminal deputy attorney for the city of Reno, said Jensen’s one-year sentence sends a clear message to motorists about the consequences of road rage.

Jensen, who quietly looked down during most of his hourlong sentencing, trembled as he spoke before his victims and the judge.

“I really do have a problem,” said Jensen, an unemployed construction worker. “I am really sorry for all you folks. What I did was definitely wrong and I am at the court’s mercy.”

His lawyer, Dennis Cameron, argued Jensen was out of control because he mixed an anti-depressant drug with alcohol during incidents in April and May, pulling one woman out of her car and punching her

Jensen’s doctors had prescribed Paxil, an antidepressant, to combat his anxieties in dealing with people, Cameron said.

“I want to start a new life,” Jensen pleaded with the judge. “I have been living this one too long.  Paxil makes me loony with just a little bit of alcohol.”

Howard, however, told Jensen he’d had plenty of time to change his life after he was first arrested in December for making threatening phone calls. Howard also said the man had had a second chance after police picked him up for being drunk in March.

Then came the road rage incidents on April 9 and May 2.

“I heard the terror of the victims’ voices on the (dispatch) tape,” Howard said.

“A woman was dragged out of her automobile, the absolute terror and horror she must have felt.”

Howard also ordered Jensen to see a psychiatrist. Once released, he will be required to undergo random drug tests and report daily to court as well as get any needed treatment for drug or alcohol abuse. He is prohibited from contacting any of his victims.

“I think our purpose was to send a message to Mr. Jensen that this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated,” said Katherine Berning, chief criminal deputy city attorney, who prosecuted the case.

“One of the witnesses called him a time bomb waiting to go off. Our job at the city attorney’s office is to make him accountable and try to defuse the time bomb,” she said.

Victims Nancy Kennedy and Carolyn Leggett made statements, each woman’s voice quavering as they described the sleepless nights and anxieties since their confrontation with Jensen.

“It has made me a nervous wreck,” Leggett said. She said she had a panic attack when she spotted Jensen back on the road a few days after he ttacked her.

He has been in jail since his second road rage incident in mid-May.

“He needs help beyond what his parents can give him,” Leggett said.

On April 9, police received a road-rage report about Jensen, who got out of his car and pounded on another vehicle. That same day, Jensen followed motorist Lawrence Sherman for blocks in northwest Reno and nearly rammed his car. Sherman had two children with him.

On May 2, Richard Dwyer used his cell phone to report Jensen to police. He told police a motorist was driving erratically and was getting out of his car to get to him.

“Can I get some help? He’s nuts,” he told the dispatcher on the evidence tape played in court on Friday.

“I’m an ex-reserve deputy for Washoe County and that really shook me up.”

Several hours later, Berning said Jensen followed Leggett home and dragged her out of her car in her driveway. She said he punched her in the face and shoulders, breaking her glasses and leaving bruises. Then she said he ripped off the car’s antennae and slashed her with that. He sped away when her husband went to call the police.

Leggett showed the judge the high-heeled shoe she used to repeatedly kick Jensen in the groin. She said he didn’t even flinch.

Later that day, the prosecutor said Jensen stood outside the Kennedy home and yelled profanities at the woman and yelled to her 27-year-old son to come out and fight. It was the second time the family had called police because of Jensen.

“The rage in his face was unreal,” Kennedy told the judge.

“His eyes were so big. He was on drugs. His strength was unreal.”

Ronald Kennedy, another neighbor of Jensen’s, testified police were called to his home on March 31 in an initial confrontation but no charges were filed.  He said Jensen attempted to break into his house and threatened to shoot him.

Kennedy said his family is moving from northwest Reno and he hopes his neighbors will be safe. “I hope they keep a close eye on him.  He’s a time bomb.”

Jensen was sentenced to two consecutive six-month sentences for disturbing the peace. Howard also suspended two six-month, concurrent sentences for battery and another disturbing the peace charge.

Four other misdemeanor charges were dropped, including careless driving, two counts of destruction of property and a trespassing charge. Jensen also faces two reckless driving charges in Reno Justice Court in other incidents.

“This is a guy who had done this several times,” Gardner said. “It sends a message to him as an individual and to the community that we’re not going to tolerate this kind of dangerous behavior and we’ll lock you in jail where you’re not a risk to people.”

Candice Towell/Reno Gazette-Journal

FRIDAY: Jon Jensen talks with his attorney, Dennis Cameron, in Reno Municipal Court.

Photos by Candice Towell/Reno Gazette-Journal

TESTIFYING: Above, Carolyn Leggett, addressing the judge, holds up the shoe she was wearing when she kicked to defend herself against Jon Jensen.  In left photo, Nancy Kennedy, who was harassed by Jensen, listens Friday during Jensen’s court appearance.
Record Number:  ren9970648408038