‘This was a heartless act,’ judge gives Gonzalez 70-80 years, victim’s family reacts
FAIRBURY, NE — The two crimes committed by 19-year-old Jake Gonzalez of Fairbury involved extreme violence and, afterward, he showed no remorse.
Those were the words of Jefferson County District Court Judge Vicky Johnson as she handed down a sentence that will put Gonzalez behind bars for 70-80 years. The sentence is the response to a jury finding him guilty of killing two-year-old Hollen Siedschlag.
“This was a sustained beating," prosecutor William Tangeman said. "The child, Hollen, has dozens of injuries all over his body. This was a really gruesome attack.”
The jury convicted Gonzalez of child abuse resulting in death and terroristic threats in October. Hollen died in February, when Gonzalez was dating and living with Hollen’s mother, Baily Siedschlag. In trial, prosecutors said Gonzalez beat Hollen, tried to prevent him from receiving care, threatened Baily and her daughter and then fled the scene.
In the sentencing hearing, prosecutor William Tangeman said Gonzalez was too dangerous to be in public.
“(Gonzalez has shown) a disregard for human life, coupled with a demonstrably violent nature is an absolute nightmare scenario for the people of Nebraska and Jefferson County,” Tangeman said.
Gonzalez was arrested for killing Hollen while out on bond from another case. In May 2020, authorities say Gonzalez shot Lance Powers four times, severely injuring him. Gonzalez eventually made a deal and pleaded no contest to attempted assault.
Defense attorney Kelly Breen argued for an indeterminate sentence because of his age.
“Judge, he is 19-years-old. These cases occurred when he was 17 and 18 years of age," Breen said. "He was still a youth.”
Johnson sentenced him to 20 years for attempted assault and three years for terroristic threats, but those will run at the same time as the 70-80-year sentence. The judge said the maximum penalty of life in prison was on the table.
“I have seriously considered that option," Johnson said. "This was a heartless act.”
She cited Gonzalez’s age as the lone mitigating factor.
Danny Meyer is Hollen’s grandfather and was among the many family members in the courtroom for the sentencing.
“I think it could have been a little more, but I think it was a good sentence," Meyer said. "I hope it progresses down the road and doesn’t get overturned or anything like that.”
The family will always remember Hollen with a smile.
“As a bright light that was in our family. Now that light’s been put out and we have to go on from there," Meyer said. "I mean, we’ll never forget him. We love him.”
When reading the sentence, Johnson said there’s nothing she could do to remedy the harm caused by Gonzalez. The only thing she could do was put an end to the cases.
Meyer said the family is devastated by Hollen’s death and in horrible grief. He said he doesn’t want anything like what happened to Hollen, to happen to anyone else.