Ivan Henk, confessed killer of his own 4-year-old son, lost an appeal Thursday that sought his immediate release from prison.
Sarpy County District Judge Max Kelch, in a five-page ruling, rejected Henk's bid for post-conviction relief. In his appeal, Henk had alleged that Douglas County's crime scene investigations director, David Kofoed, planted evidence to bolster the prosecution's case.
The judge, however, determined that Henk's decision to plead guilty to first-degree murder in the January 2003 slaying of son Brendan Gonzalez of Plattsmouth was an overriding factor in Thursday's ruling.
“Even if the conclusions alleged by (Henk) were deemed factual, the allegations do not sustain (Henk's) burden to allege specific facts which would entitle Defendant to the relief sought,” Kelch wrote.
“The blood evidence was not significant enough to be part of the factual basis to support Defendant's plea of guilty.”
In rejecting Henk's appeal, Kelch determined that substantial evidence showed Henk had killed his son and served as a strong basis for the guilty plea.
Kelch wrote that on “several separate occasions, one in an open court proceeding, and another to law enforcement officers following the court hearing,” Henk admitted that he killed Brendan.
Kofoed's tie to the case is this: In June 2003, Kofoed reported finding a perfect DNA profile of Brendan on garbage that Kofoed pulled out of a trash bin in Bellevue some five months after the boy had disappeared. Kofoed's discovery corroborated a day-old confession by Henk, who already was jailed in the slaying.
When Brendan's blood was found in the trash, Kofoed and his team already had recovered the boy's blood from a Plattsmouth house and from Henk's car.
Henk later pleaded guilty to killing his son and in 2005 received a life prison sentence.
This summer, Henk's attorney, Jerry Soucie, asked the court to throw out the conviction, arguing that Kofoed planted evidence to bolster the state's case.
Soucie said he has a month to decide whether to appeal Kelch's ruling to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
“There was no ruling on the merits of the allegations I raised,” Soucie said. “It just said that the fact that Ivan Henk pleaded guilty, he could not raise these issues at all.”
Kofoed is accused in state court of mishandling blood evidence in the April 2006 shotgun slayings of Wayne and Sharmon Stock of rural Murdock, Neb. He was acquitted in September of four federal charges: two felonies, falsifying records and mail fraud; and two misdemeanor counts of depriving someone of civil rights.
He has remained on paid administrative leave since April.
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