Delavan man admits to taking sheriff's deputy hostage

(Published September 18, 2006, 8:38 a.m.)

A Delavan man admits he took a Walworth County deputy hostage June 21, but he maintains he is not mentally responsible for the crime.

Robbie S. Dickerson, 809 E. Geneva St., pleaded guilty Thursday to five felonies: disarming an officer, taking an officer hostage, battery to a police officer, recklessly endangering safety and endangering safety with a firearm.

Judge Michael Gibbs found him guilty, but Dickerson, 26, still may argue before a jury that mental disease or defect made him unable to understand right from wrong or unable to conform his behavior to the law.

Defense attorney John Dade said he is awaiting a second mental evaluation of Dickerson.

A court-appointed psychiatrist found Dickerson was suffering from a mental disease the night he took sheriff's deputy Cheryl Schmidt hostage. However, the psychiatrist did not find enough evidence to support a finding of not guilty by mental disease, Dade said.

Schmidt, a police officer since 1989, declined to comment about the agreement.

The plea agreement allows the parties to argue for the appropriate sentence if Dickerson is found mentally responsible. He faces 1141/2 years in prison.

Dickerson originally was charged with 16 offenses. Before the plea, he faced more than 256 years in prison.

The related charges will be dismissed, but can be considered at sentencing.

Schmidt on June 21 responded to a residence on North Walworth Road for a reported domestic dispute. She noticed Dickerson appeared to be armed with a knife. When she attempted to disarm him, Dickerson got hold of her revolver, according to the criminal complaint.

When other officers responded, Dickerson allegedly fired at them while holding Schmidt around her neck. While holding the gun to her head, Dickerson took Schmidt into the multi-family home and fired shots inside, including one into the ceiling that nearly struck people in the upstairs apartment, according to the complaint.

Schmidt escaped when Dickerson let his guard down to light a cigarette.

Undersheriff Kurt Picknell said the sheriff's department conferred with District Attorney Phil Koss before Koss offered the plea.

Schmidt and the department were satisfied with the agreement.

"I think (Schmidt) just wants to get this behind her and doesn't want to see (Dickerson) part of society again," Picknell said.

 

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