• Read the default judgment against former Douglas County CSI chief David Kofoed.
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David Kofoed will find out soon how much the botched investigation of a Cass County double murder will cost him.
The former chief of the Douglas County crime lab, named as a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit after serving a prison term for felony evidence tampering, didn't show up Tuesday for the opening of his trial in Omaha.
So U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon entered a default judgment against him, closing a chapter on a sensational murder case that shocked the small Nebraska community of Murdock.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Matt Livers and Nick Sampson, were falsely accused in the 2006 shotgun murders of Livers' aunt and uncle, Sharmon and Wayne Stock.
Two Wisconsin teenagers later pleaded guilty to the slayings and are serving life terms.
Kofoed was responsible for processing evidence from the crime scene, and in 2010, a Cass County court convicted him of felony evidence tampering for planting blood specks on a supposed getaway car belonging to Sampson's brother.
Kofoed, now 57, served two years in prison. He maintains his innocence, saying the blood samples were simply contaminated, not planted.
Reached after Tuesday's verdict at his home in Charlotte, N.C., Kofoed said he's broke, unemployed and couldn't make the trip for his trial.
“There's no money,” he said. “I would have had to hitchhike back to Omaha.”
Besides, he said, it would have been “a pointless thing.”
“I don't think it was really going to matter either way,” said Kofoed, who is representing himself in the case.
The judgment follows a $2.6 million settlement with the lawsuit's other defendants: investigators from the Nebraska State Patrol, Cass County and Douglas County.
Livers agreed to a $1.65 million settlement; Sampson will receive $965,000.
Under the terms of the settlement, Cass County will pay the men about $1.5 million, the state will pay $975,000 and Douglas County will pay $125,000.
The settlement releases the agencies and the individual investigators named in the complaint from liability. None of the agencies admitted wrongdoing.
Compensatory and punitive damages against Kofoed will be determined at a hearing sometime next week.
Locke Bowman, a Chicago attorney who represents Livers, declined to estimate the damages his team is seeking. But he said the amount would be “very substantial.”
“There's obviously no amount of money that's going to make Matt Livers whole,” Bowman said.
Livers, who has an IQ of 63, according to the lawsuit, implicated himself and Sampson after more than 11 hours of coercive questioning by state and Cass County investigators.
Video of Livers' interrogation shows that they threatened him with the death penalty and fed him details from the crime scene so he could make a confession, Bowman said. They withheld for months the fact that Livers recanted the next day.
Before being cleared of the charges, Livers spent about eight months in jail and Sampson was jailed about six months.
Livers, 35, is a long-distance truck driver living in Texas. Sampson, 29, still lives in the Murdock area.
The default judgment