June date set for three-judge panel to hear evidence in Aubrey Trail's murder case

June date set for three-judge panel to hear evidence in Aubrey Trail's murder case

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Aubrey Trail Trial, 6.18

Aubrey Trail listens last June as Assistant Attorney General Sandra Allen delivers her opening statement to the jury in Saline County District Court.

A four-day hearing has been set in June for a three-judge panel to hear evidence about whether Aubrey Trail should end up on death row for the killing of a 24-year-old Lincoln woman.

Saline County District Judge Vicky Johnson issued an order Wednesday afternoon scheduling his aggravation and mitigation hearing to start June 23 in Wilber.

Trail opted for a panel of three judges to consider evidence to decide whether prosecutors can prove an aggravating factor necessary for capital punishment after a Saline County jury last summer quickly convicted him of first-degree murder for the killing of Sydney Loofe.

He since has challenged the appointment of one of the judges, Johnson County District Judge Julie D. Smith, because she was general counsel for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services prior to being named a judge.

A hearing is set on that motion next week. 

Earlier this month, one of Trail's attorneys, Ben Murray, filed a motion asking Smith to recuse herself because of her work on the execution protocols while working for Corrections. 

Johnson and Cass County District Judge Michael A. Smith are the other two appointed to the panel. 

The Nebraska Attorney General’s office is alleging the murder "manifested exceptional depravity by ordinary standards of morality and intelligence.”

Trail and his co-defendant, Bailey Boswell, both were charged with killing Loofe, who went missing after going on a date with Boswell in November 2017.

Loofe's body later was found dismembered in rural Clay County.

Boswell is set for trial in March in Lexington.

Aubrey Trail in court

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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