National Roundup

Jury convicts man of 2016 dismemberment

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (AP) — A northeastern Nebraska man has been convicted of killing and dismembering another man, bringing to an end a case that has languished in the court system for nearly four years.

Andres Surber, 29, Wakefield, was found guilty Thursday of first-degree murder and two weapons counts in the Nov. 1, 2016, death of 42-year-old Kraig Kubik, the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal reported.

Authorities say Surber and Brayan Galvan-Hernandez killed Kubik at Kubik’s home in Emerson. Officials believe the pair shot Kubik to death when he refused their demands that he give them a car that once belonged to Surber.

Kublk’s dismembered body was found in a culvert four days after he was reported missing, and other body parts of Kubik’s were found in the trunk of a car. Galvan-Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to 50 to 60 years in prison in 2017, but Surber’s case was delayed as he was found repeatedly to be mentally incompetent before a judge eventually found him stable enough to stand trial.

Surber will be sentenced at a later date.

Court nixes lawsuit by family of slain inmate

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday upheld the rejection of a lawsuit brought by the family of an inmate killed in 2017 by another inmate.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the estate of 22-year-old Terry Berry, who was killed in April 2017 by his new cellmate Patrick Schroeder.

The lawsuit accused the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services of negligence and wrongful death for putting Schroeder — who was known by prison officials to be bad-tempered — in the same cell with Berry. Schroeder readily admitted to strangling Berry, saying he killed the talkative Berry after warning him several times to “shut up.” Schroeder, who was already serving a life sentence for the 2006 murder of a 75-year-old Pawnee City farmer, is currently on death row Berry’s killing.

In its ruling, the state’s high court said that state law so broadly defines government immunity that it had no choice but to uphold dismissal of the lawsuit. It suggested that the “Legislature may wish to revisit the state’s sovereign immunity in cases such as the one presented by this appeal.”

In a dissent, Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman argued the majority wrongly bucked precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court on immunity and said the lawsuit should have been allowed to go before a jury.

Social worker cleared for not reporting alleged sex assault

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A jury has acquitted a Colorado mental health worker who was accused of failing to report sexual assault accusations against a highly regarded football recruit.

Marilyn Lori, 47, testified that the victim did not tell her enough about the alleged incident to report it to authorities. She was found not guilty last Wednesday by a Boulder County jury of failure to report suspected child abuse.

James Merson, Lori’s defense attorney, did not return requests for comment, the Daily Camera reported.

“As in every trial, we appreciate the jury’s service and respect their verdict,” said Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty in a statement.

“The victim is to be commended for having the courage and strength to go through this process,” Dougherty said. “The significant responsibilities of a mandatory reporter are particularly important and impactful to the young people in our community.”

Lori was embedded at the victim’s high school in 2018 through Mental Health Partners and was a mandatory reporter.

The girl on Tuesday testified that she told Lori about the football player inappropriately touched her on a party bus following homecoming in 2018.

Lori testified she met the student, then 16, in October 2018. “I had saw her crying and waiting so I approached her several times,” Lori said. “She was very resistant, she did not want to talk to me.”

Lori said the student agreed to speak with her about the incident but only gave “very vague details.”

“She was shut down a lot of the time she was speaking to me,” Lori said. “I think it was very hard for her to share.”

Lori said the student only referenced a “conflict” that occurred with a male student at the school.

“She did not give me any details about what that conflict was,” Lori said, later adding, “She was incredibly vague about what happened with the peer.”

Lori said that with the limited information she was given, she did not feel as if she could ethically break the victim’s confidentiality.

The victim told a different guidance counselor at the school about the incident about a year later, who then reported it to police. Police then arrested and charged the football player on three counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault and five counts of unlawful sexual contact. His attorney, Lara Baker, has not returned an inquiry seeking comment.

Man convicted of killing deputy appeals to state high court

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A man convicted in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy is appealing his conviction to Maine’s highest court.

John D. Williams, 32, was accused of placing a gun against the neck of a sheriff’s deputy and pulling the trigger and was found guilty of murder last year. He is now appealing his conviction to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and a hearing will be held Sept. 15, the Bangor Daily News reported last week.

Cpl. Eugene Cole was trying to arrest Williams on a drug charge in April 2018, authorities said. Police searched for Williams for four days before arresting him in a remote cabin, the newspaper reported.

Cole, 61, was the first law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in nearly 30 years in Maine.

The attorney representing Williams, Verne E. Paradie Jr., will argue in the appeal that the trial court erred by not granting Williams a mistrial; by denying the defense’s request to bar Williams’ confession to police; and by imposing a life sentence.

Paradie had argued that the judge should not have allowed prosecutors to recreate their theory of how Williams shot Cole using a demonstration in front of the jury.

“Unfortunately, the demonstration crossed the line between fairness and denying a defendant a fair trial,” Paradie said in court briefs.

In response, the Maine attorney general’s office is arguing that it informed the defense of its intention to introduce a demonstration of the shooting in advance.