TECUMSEH, Nebraska — A Kansas slaying suspect has been convicted of five felony charges stemming from a shot-filled police chase in southeast Nebraska.
Johnson County court records say Michael Engstrom pleaded no contest on Monday to intentionally attempting to cause serious injury by firing at five officers while fleeing from a February robbery in neighboring Pawnee County. He also pleaded no contest to two Pawnee County charges.
Johnson County Attorney Julie Smith said in a news release that each charge carries a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.
Prosecutors dropped 16 other felony charges in exchange for Engstrom's pleas. His sentencing on all seven convictions is scheduled for Jan. 13.
Kansas authorities have charged Engstrom and his wife, Jamie, with first-degree murder and other crimes in the Feb. 13 slaying of Ricky Mitchell, 35, and wounding of Bridget Gakle, 28, in Topeka, Kansas Authorities have said Mitchell died at a hospital later and that Gakle was able to identify the shooter.
Lee McGowan, of the Shawnee County district attorney's office, said Tuesday that his office likely will request Michael Engstrom's return to face Kansas charges after his sentencing in Nebraska. Jamie Engstrom is in Kansas custody, McGowan said, and had pleaded not guilty to the murder and other charges.
Authorities have said that they suspect the Engstroms fled Topeka after the shootings, drove north to Pawnee County, Nebraska, and robbed a convenience store in Pawnee City. The city sits about 75 miles north of Topeka.
Nebraska officers in nearby Johnson County soon spotted a car that matched the description of the robbers' getaway vehicle. It pulled over, but then the driver opened fire on the officers, slightly wounding one.
A high-speed chase followed, with more shots fired. It ended when the car ran into a field near St. Mary, Nebraska, and got stuck. The Engstroms were arrested.
Both Engstroms also were charged with child abuse. A 14-year-old child was with them during the chase and gunbattle. She was placed with state authorities. Officers have said they didn't realize the girl was with the Engstroms.
Jamie Engstrom pleaded guilty after prosecutors dropped several other Nebraska charges. She was given five years in prison.
Michael Engstrom has been indicted in a federal weapons case, too. Prosecutors say Engstrom had a handgun in Kansas on Jan. 28, which prosecutors say violates federal law barring felons from having weapons. He'd been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in March 2004 in Oklahoma.