A Cheyenne man accused of stealing a van and leading law enforcement on a chase through two states pleaded no contest Wednesday in District Court to one count of wrongful taking or disposing of property.

Earl Hollis Mercer, 42, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The prosecution agreed to recommend a 3-5 year prison sentence in exchange for Mercer’s plea.  Mercer was allowed to plead no contest because he says he doesn’t remember committing the crime for which he was arrested.

Judge Jeffrey Donnell set Mercer’s bond at $20,000 cash and ordered him returned to custody in Cheyenne, where another case against him is pending.

Court documents say Mercer stole a white 2012 Nissan cargo van from a home in Laporte, Colorado around 6:50 p.m. on July 16.

The homeowner told police he and his girlfriend had just stepped outside to walk their dog when they saw his company van drive away.  The pair chased the van in their personal vehicle for the next 30 miles northbound on US 287 while calling 911.

According to the affidavit, the couple said Mercer was swerving all over the roadway.  They stopped following once Larimer County Sheriff’s deputies took over.

Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers joined the chase as Mercer crossed the border near milepost 425.  One trooper was able to spike the van’s tires near milepost 420.

Mercer sped up to 80 mph, but then slowed to 35 mph as his tires began to flatten and fall apart about two miles later.

One of the Colorado deputies took the opportunity to perform a pit maneuver, causing Mercer to lose control and end up in a ditch.  He tried to drive off, but the van gave out and got stuck in the soft dirt.

Troopers ordered Mercer out of the driver’s seat at gunpoint before taking him down and forcibly restraining him.

Court documents say neither of the witnesses recognized Mercer.  Police believe Mercer was under the influence of alcohol and drugs while driving the stolen vehicle.

A sentencing date has not been set.

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