Nebraska woman avoids death penalty for murder of store clerk

WILBER, Neb. >> A woman convicted of murder for her role in the death and dismemberment of a Nebraska hardware store worker was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, avoiding the prospect of being the first woman in history. State to be sentenced to death.

A three-judge panel remained deadlocked over the appropriate sentence for Bailey Boswell, two arguing the 27-year-old deserved to die for her crimes and the third arguing that prosecutors had failed to prove the case deserved the ultimate punishment.

Boswell will now spend the rest of her life at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women for her role in the death and dismemberment of Sydney Loofe in 2017. She was sentenced to the Wilber County Courthouse, approximately 40 miles southwest of Lincoln.

Prosecutors said Boswell and her boyfriend, Aubrey Trail, 55, planned to kill someone before Boswell met Loofe, 24, on the dating app Tinder and lured her to them. Loofe, a cashier at a Menards store in Lincoln, was strangled. His body parts were later found in garbage bags, cut into 14 pieces and left in ditches along country roads in rural Clay County.

Boswell court-appointed attorney Todd Lancaster said he was aware of at least two other cases in Nebraska where a three-judge panel split over whether to impose the sentence death, resulting in a life sentence by default.

“I can say that Bailey is grateful for the good of her family and especially her 7 year old daughter, Nahla, that she was not sentenced to death, and so am I.” said Lancaster, of the Commission. of Nebraska. on public advocacy.

In a statement, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson did not directly address the decision, but thanked local law enforcement and the jury who convicted Boswell for their work.

“With the criminal cases closing and the anniversary of (Loofe’s) death approaching, our thoughts are with the Loofe family during this difficult time,” said Peterson.

Judge Peter Battalion, the sole dissenter in Monday’s ruling, called the crime horrific and said Boswell should spend the rest of his life in prison, but said he was not convinced that she had shown “exceptional depravity”, the legal standard required for a death sentence. He did not specify but voted to impose death sentences in the past.

Judges Vicky Johnson and Darla Ideus disagreed and ruled in favor of the death penalty. Both judges concluded that Boswell deserved death because she helped lure Loofe into the apartment where she and Trail lived and in advance purchased power tools that were used to cut Loofe’s body apart. They also highlighted statements at trial that Boswell was sexually aroused by thoughts of people being tortured and killed.

“Boswell’s actions and words demonstrate that she had no respect for Sydney Loofe’s life beyond her own pleasure,” Johnson said.

Johnson described Loofe as a “helpless victim” who was targeted in a cold and calculating manner. As she read her decision aloud in court, several of Loofe’s family bowed their heads and a woman dabbed her eyes with a tissue. The family left the courtroom after sentencing without answering questions.

Boswell was convicted in October 2020 of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and the improper disposal of human remains. Trail was convicted of the same charges in 2019 and sentenced to death in June. No execution date has been set, and based on Nebraska’s history with the death penalty, her sentence is unlikely to be served anytime soon.

Although Trail changed his story on several occasions, he admitted during his conviction that he strangled Loofe with an electrical cord, as prosecutors alleged. He said he tied Loofe up and killed her because she “panicked” when he told her about his way of life with Boswell and other young women, which included the fraud against the antique dealers and rough group sex.

Trail admitted that he repeatedly lied to authorities and plotted to kill Loofe two to three hours before his murder. But he claimed Boswell wasn’t in the room and didn’t know he was going to do it – a claim Judges Johnson and Ideus didn’t believe.

Trail became the 12th death row inmate in Nebraska, a state that rarely carries out executions. He missed much of his own trial after cutting his neck in the courtroom and shouting, ‘Bailey is innocent, I curse you all.

The state’s most recent execution was that of convicted murderer Carey Dean Moore in 2018, after Moore dropped all appeals and demanded to be killed. Prior to that, Nebraska’s last execution was in 1997.

Boswell will now become the 16th woman to serve a life sentence in Nebraska for first degree murder, according to a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Corrections. Men on death row await execution at Tecumseh State Correctional Facility, which is a male-only facility.