Booking photo for Ronald Nalepa (Courtesy: Cache County Jail)
LOGAN — A warrant has been issued for a 39-year-old Logan man after he failed to appear for sentencing. Ronald D. Nalepa previously confessed to stabbing another man at a transient camp in Millville Canyon last summer.
The hearing was held in 1st District Court Thursday morning. Nalepa previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; and, two misdemeanors for failing to stop at the command of police and driving under the influence.
Public defender Ryan Holdaway told the court he didn’t know where Nalepa was as the hearing started. He hadn’t been able to reach his client to remind him of the date and couldn’t explain the absence.
Nalepa was originally scheduled to be sentenced in May. That hearing was postponed though, after the defendant failed to complete a presentence report with probation agents. During the rescheduled virtual hearing in June, he told the court his phone wasn’t working properly and asked for another postponement.
Judge Angela Fonnesbeck expressed concern about Nalepa’s absence and failure to comply with the court previously. She issued the no bail arrest warrant because the defendant could be a danger to himself or the community.
Early on the morning of August 26, 2020, Nalepa was at the camp in Millville when he got into an argument with the victim, Jesse Kaufman. The fight turned physical and the defendant stabbed the 31-year-old in the arm with a pocketknife.
Witnesses drove Kaufman to a Nibley convenience store where they called 911.
Police and paramedics responded to the gas station. They treated Kaufman and transported him to Logan Regional Hospital, where he was later flown by air-ambulance to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.
The 911 caller told dispatch operators that Nalepa fled the scene in a red Dodge truck. They had followed his vehicle to Nibley.
Minutes later, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper located a truck matching Nalepa’s description, travelling northbound on US-89/91. The truck continued into Logan and refused to stop when the trooper activated his lights and siren.
Law enforcement continued to chase the vehicle until Nalepa pulled over near his home in Logan. He was taken into custody without incident and booked in jail. He had remained in custody until March, when he was released in exchange for accepting a plea deal.
Nalepa reportedly lived in an apartment near 171 W. 100 North previously. He could face up to five years in prison.