Judges To Decide If Aubrey Trail Should Be Put To Death After He Waives Right To Jury Decision

Aubrey Trail is wheeled out of the Saline County courtroom after hearing his murder conviction. (Media pool photo)
July 11, 2019 - 12:55pm

A three-judge panel will determine whether Aubrey Trail should be put to death for the murder of Lincoln woman Sydney Loofe. Trail waived his right for a jury to make that determination on Thursday morning. 


Trail faces two possible fates: spending the rest of his life in prison, or death.

Typically the same jury that convicted Trail of murder would also decide whether the crime meets one of the “aggravating circumstances” defined in Nebraska law that would make it eligible for the death penalty.

But after his conviction, Trail decided to waive that right, moving his case straight to a panel of three appointed judges to make that determination.

Defense attorney Joe Murray says they thought the evidence that Loofe’s death was an accident was clear:

"While we're not criticizing the jury's effort yesterday, we weren't gonna give him another chance to make another decision today," he said. 

The state attorney general’s office says in this case, the aggravating factor is that the murder was quote: “especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or manifested exceptional depravity.”

Defense attorney Ben Murray says what Trail admittedly did to Loofe’s body after her death doesn’t qualify.

"What they're trying to use as evidence is that it was an exceptionally heinous dismemberment," Murray said. "And I just don't think that the facts are the same."

The panel will have to reach a unanimous decision to impose the death penalty. Presiding Judge Vicky Johnson will sit on the panel along with two other judges. 

The defense team says it will be months before that process moves forward. The Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

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