Sentencing ends saga

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2002

Gabrielle Skye Holvick was the getaway driver for two accused murderers who escaped from the Mower County Jail.

Even she admitted that in court.

On Friday, she escaped serious time in prison for aiding and abetting the escape.

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District Judge Donald E. Rysavy sentenced Holvick, 19 of Austin, to nearly nine years in prison on two counts of felony aiding and abetting escape.

However, the prison sentences were ordered stayed by Rysavy, while Holvick was placed on probation for up to 10 years.

She must also forfeit the car she used to drive the two jail escapees to freedom, pay a $500 fine and $45 surcharge and participate in the "Moving On" program for convicted felons.

Holvick was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for time served. She will be allowed to serve the jail sentence with work release privileges on weekends.

In addition, she will have to contribute five days of community service for each year of her probation.

Holvick's sentence was for 106 months. But she could have gotten 58 years in prison, plus over $104,000 in fines had she been found guilty of the original seven felony charges filed against her after the March 2000 jail escape in which two Mower County jailers were assaulted.

Holvick apologized to Rysavy for "poor judgment" before breaking down in a packed courtroom Friday afternoon.

The plea agreement was hammered out after Holvick told the court she was an "unwitting accomplice" to the jail escape at a hearing held in May. The judge took the plea bargain under advisement until Friday's sentencing hearing.

Holvick stood side-by-side with her defense attorney, Peggy Rockow, during the 20-minute sentencing hearing Friday. She had undergone still another transformation in her appearance since her arrest in March 2001. Gone was the

casually-dressed teenager and later the business-suited young woman. On Friday, Holvick wore shoulder-length brown hair and a floor-length purple-colored formal dress.

Again, her grandparents were present with friends to support her.

Patrick A. Oman, Mower County Attorney, observed at the outset of the hearing Friday, "This long, sad saga finally comes to an end."

Oman called Holvick a "victim of the manipulative behavior of Vernon Neal Powers," one of the accused murderer she helped to escape from jail.

He said a downward

departure from sentencing guidelines was warranted and that a year in the Mower County Jail -- "around the jail staff who directly suffered because of the prisoners' escape" -- was a fitting part of the punishment to be imposed upon her.

"We also hope rehabilitation will impact positively on her life," he said.

The prosecutor pointed out the Minnesota Department of Corrections pre-sentencing investigation

also saw the downward departure from a prison term as the "appropriate" sentence for the defendant.

Defense attorney Rockow had no objection to the DOC's or Oman's recommendations on sentencing. She said her client "played a minor role" in the jail escape, but later qualified that remark by saying "but not a passive role by any means."

The downward departure, according to the defense attorney, "gives us hope that Gabrielle Holvick is someone we will never see again in the criminal justice system."

Rysavy said both the prosecutor and the defense attorney "accurately stated the reasons for a departure from sentencing guidelines."

Rysavy, who has heard all facets of the case since it began with the double homicide at the Downtown Motel in June 2000,

called Holvick an "unwitting participant" in the escape and that she deliberately misled authorities 'because she feared for her life and the safety of her family."

He also said, "I believe you are sincere in your statements" to the court that she exercised bad judgment..

After imposing the sentencing, the judge told Holvick, "I understand you plan to enter college and study nursing and I hope you are successful at doing that."

Holvick nodded affirmatively to the judge and walked out of the courtroom with her defense attorney.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at:mailto: