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Stewart sentenced on multiple charges

WORTHINGTON -- Mark Daniel Stewart, who pleaded guilty last month to charges in several different cases, was sentenced in Nobles County District Court Monday to 270 days in jail with credit for time served since his arrest in early June.

Stewart, 28, of Hills, was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service on one case and 50 hours on another. He also must pay $370 in restitution to Merck Animal Health's maintenance department.

He pleaded guilty to fleeing from a peace officer in a motor vehicle, motor vehicle theft, trespassing, criminal damage to property and fleeing from a peace officer on foot. He has charges pending in South Dakota for theft and fleeing a peace officer.

Stewart said after spending several months in jail sober and straight, he is looking for a new beginning in his life. He is one test away from gaining his GED, something he never even considered before. All he has left, he said, is to take the math and algebra test.

"The guy sitting behind you went to college for a year and a half," Judge Jeffrey Flynn commented about a man who had just pleaded guilty to robbery and will be in jail until his sentencing. "Maybe he can help you."

Both Stewart and the other prisoner, Lotery Heath, agreed to the judge's suggestion.

Stewart said he had no excuses for his life of drugs and alcohol abuse, other than he had started out young and always thought there was no hope in his life.

"I'm trying now to think positive, get my GED and think about college," he said, adding that he has an interest in mechanics.

"Well, with no driver's license and a felony record, it's going to be hard to find a job," Flynn commented. "You'd be surprised how narrow-minded some people are."

After pronouncing a stay of execution on the sentence with the condition that Stewart serve the 270 days in jail and the community service, Flynn said he would favorably consider a request asking for a reduction in service hours if Stewart passed his GED exams.