Several minutes after being sentenced and released from Faribault County Jail on Monday, John Andrew Yahnke of Blue Earth was trying to put his life back together again.
The first item on his ‘to-do list’ was to schedule an appointment with his probation agent and then meet with Blue Earth Area High School officials about continuing his education.
Convicted last month of possessingexplosive components with the intent to make a bomb, Yahnke was still maintaining his innocence.
He says the state’s key witness changed her story several times when questioned by authorities.
“I’m definitely going to file an appeal. I don’t care if I have to go into debt,” he says. “I think it’s definitely worth it to get a felony off my record.”
Yahnke served 113 days behind county bars and recently began receiving educational instruction. He says he now weighs 177, losing 30 pounds since being arrested.
“That was the worst part of being in jail. I lost a lot of muscle and weight I had gained for football,” he says.
Judge Douglas Richards placed the 18-year-old Yahnke on 10 years supervised probation, fined him $580 and issued a 23-month stay of execution. He also told him he could not possess any explosive components, even if they are legal.
During the sentencing hearing defense attorney Bill Grogin asked Richards for a stay of imposition, meaning the felony conviction would be removed from his client’s record if he met all conditions of his probation.
Grogin says Yahnke is young and a felony will “complicate his life” and could make it difficult for him to find full-time employment.
Some conditions of his probation include, obtaining a high school diploma or GED certificate, obtaining a psychological assessment, serving on a Sentence to Serve crew if unemployed, doing five days of community service and having no assaultive or threatening behavior.
For now, Yahnke is living with a friend in Winnebago. If allowed, he wants to eventually move to Owatonna to find a job.
“Be sure to stay in contact with your probation agent. If he can’t find you the only alternative is to issue a warrant for your arrest,” Richards told Yahnke.
The maximum penalty Yahnke was facing was five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Because of a criminal history in which he faced a similar charge in 2006, sentencing guidelines recommended a 23-month sentence.
Yahnke was arrested July 14 after local authorities received a tip from a citizen that he might have bomb-making materials in his Blue Earth apartment.