A defiant Bryan Bey was sentenced to life in prison Friday for the kidnapping of a 30-year-old Council Bluffs woman.
But before being led away by Pottawattamie County Sheriff's deputies in shackles, Bey had a few opinions to share with the court.
Bey, 40, was convicted of first- and second-degree kidnapping in the beating and abduction of Tabitha Proplesch on May 2. During the trial, he opted to represent himself as opposed to allowing a court-appointed attorney to represent him.
The Crescent man was charged in the assault and abduction of Proplesch on May 31, 2012. The incident started at an Omaha apartment and ended west of Crescent when the vehicle in which Bey was transporting Proplesch ran out of gas.
Proplesch was found after an Iowa Department of Transportation officer responded to a report of a suspicious truck on the side of the road. After attempting a felony stop of the truck and receiving no response from the person in the truck, officers rushed the vehicle and discovered a severely beaten, nearly unconscious and handcuffed Proplesch, with her hands behind her back, in the cab of the truck.
At trial, Bey claimed he was only helping Proplesch and was "saving" her from the “real” people who committed the assault. Bey never explained who did the beating, and Proplesch testified that Bey was the only person involved in her assault.
Bey reiterated his frustration with the court proceedings Friday, refusing to stand when Fourth District Court Judge Kathleen Kilnoski entered the courtroom. When Kilnoski politely asked Bey to rise, he responded with an expletive-laced rant.
“(Expletive) you,” he told Kilnoski. “Why don't you make me rise, how about that?”
Kilnoski called for a recess and Bey continued to rave as she left the courtroom.
“(Expletive) everybody here; you got the wrong guy,” he said. “They planted evidence and coerced witnesses, (expletive) you all.”
He also referred to Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber as a "douche bag."
Kilnoski returned a short time later. She explained to Bey that he would treat her with civility or he would be removed from the sentencing.
Matthew Pittenger, an appointed attorney assisting Bey, offered motions for a new trial and arrest of judgment. Pittenger cited a litany of arguments for a new trial, including jury misconduct because a juror wrote Bey a letter after the trial and a court error for not allowing Bey to call his uncle to the stand as an alibi witness because he did not have the man on a list of potential witnesses.
Wilber said most of the complaints were because Bey represented himself in the trial.
“Because of Mr. Bey's inefficiency, he doesn't get to complain he had ineffectual assistance because he was his own attorney,” Wilber argued. “The court bent over backwards to accommodate him and allowed him to do things an attorney would never be allowed to do.”
Kilnoski said she reviewed the motions carefully and found there was “overwhelming, credible evidence to support the jury verdicts.”
However, Kilnoski did merge the two counts into one, saying that the kidnapping was one continuous act.
Before announcing the mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole, Kilnoski gave Bey a chance to speak.
“Do you have a gavel?” he asked Kilnoski. “It'd be cool if you slammed it down and said, 'Life!'”
Kilnoski sentenced him to life in prison and dismissed a serious misdemeanor charge recently filed against Bey because of an assault on an inmate at the Pottawattamie County Jail.
Bey has 90 days to appeal the sentence.
Wilber said he was not surprised by the outbursts.
“It's part of the job,” he said. “I've been called worse than a 'douche bag' in my career.”
He said the case was the most difficult he has encountered, not emotionally or because of evidence, but because the defendant representing himself posed a number of challenges.
“Logistically, it was a nightmare,” Wilber said. “But he wanted to drive the train for himself, and he got to do that.”