Two new cases filed against Nevada County man who allegedly eluded pursuit
Two new felony cases were filed this month in Nevada County against a man accused of eluding capture for several days after a six-hour pursuit in January.
But the arraignment of John Wenzel Niece, 46, on charges of assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, and reckless evasion of a peace officer — which all stem from incidents in November 2019 — was postponed Tuesday after he successfully argued for a new attorney. Defense attorney Bill Walker now represents Niece, who is set to return to court on May 26. He remained in custody Wednesday in the Nevada County Jail on $60,000 in bond.
Niece now has five open criminal cases in Nevada County Superior Court. At least some of those likely will be consolidated, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Beauchamp said at a recent court hearing.
Niece is facing two counts of resisting arrest and one count of providing false information in connection with a Jan. 24, 2018, arrest in Grass Valley. During a preliminary hearing into the evidence, Grass Valley Police Sgt. Clint Bates testified that Niece punched him in the nose.
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Niece was charged with felony evasion of a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy on Nov. 16, 2019, following an incident in Yuba County that forms the basis for one of the new cases.
The Nevada County deputy had tried to stop a vehicle that matched the be-on-the-lookout advisory issued after a Yuba County deputy on patrol at Bullards Bar approached a Tahoe parked in a day-use area allegedly occupied by Niece.
Niece started the vehicle and accelerated, pinning the Yuba County deputy briefly against his patrol vehicle, a Yuba County sheriff’s spokeswoman has said. The deputy was uninjured and tried to pursue the Tahoe, losing it near North San Juan.
Nevada County has taken jurisdiction over that case, charging Niece with assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest.
The other newly filed case, with a charge of reckless evasion, has to do with a January incident. That also forms the basis for a violation of post-release community supervision.
The Jan. 10 pursuit began around 9 a.m. after a California Highway Patrol officer spotted a Chevrolet Tahoe with expired registration tabs at Highway 20 and Idaho Maryland Road. The driver, identified as Niece, failed to yield on an attempted traffic stop and instead fled up Idaho Maryland Road.
Authorities have said the Tahoe was pursued onto Banner Lava Cap Road, then down Red Dog Cross Road to Greenhorn Creek. The Tahoe ended up crossing the creek and heading up Chalk Bluff Road, where the pursuit was taken over by a CHP helicopter and a fixed-wing plane. Niece eventually abandoned the Tahoe and fled on foot, and the search was called off.
Niece was spotted walking down the road in Cascade Shores two days later and tried to flee from deputies on foot, Nevada County sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Trygg said.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
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