An assistant prosecutor said Monday that an Omaha man charged with the murder of a Florence resident blocked the exits of the victim’s home before starting a fire inside.
Terrance Hale, 30, is accused of causing the death of Raymond Vasholz, 83, Thursday at 7124 N. 33rd St. and critically injuring his wife, Elizabeth Vasholz, 76.
Raymond Vasholz was pronounced dead at Creighton University Medical Center.
His wife was taken to St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln, where her condition had been upgraded Monday to fair.
In addition to first-degree murder, Hale is charged with first-degree arson, burglary and attempted robbery. Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo ordered Hale held without bail pending a preliminary trial.
The prosecutor said an intruder entered the Vasholzes’ home about 9 a.m. by breaking a window with a brick.
The couple went down to the first floor to investigate, the prosecutor said, and were confronted by a man demanding money.
When the Vasholzes said they didn’t have any, they were attacked. The intruder then moved furniture to block the home’s doors and set a fire, the prosecutor said.
Asked by the judge if he understood the charges against him, and his rights, Hale appeared confused and said, “I don’t know what that means, but I guess so.”
Hale also told the judge that he thought an attorney had been hired to represent him, but no attorney was present.
Marcuzzo instructed the Douglas County Public Defender’s Office to represent Hale in the interim.
William Penn, a deacon with Hope Lutheran Church, talked to reporters outside the Douglas County Correctional Center, where the bail hearing was held. Penn said he was attending the hearing at the request of Hale’s family and was shocked by the prosecution’s assessment.
“He used to attend our church and seemed to be on the right track,” Penn said. “He wanted to become a deacon.”
Penn also said the Hale family is “pretty much shocked” by the criminal charges and that the suspect’s grandmother has been hospitalized by the stress of the situation.
Relatives of the Vasholzes attended the bail hearing but declined to comment.
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