Hero or killer?
Jury selection began Monday in a first-degree trial that is expected to pose the question: Was Terrance Hale a killer with a cockamamie scheme to steal? Or was he a would-be hero who helped after he saw smoke coming from his neighbor's house in the Florence area of Omaha?
The February fire took the life of Raymond Vasholz, 83, and critically injured his wife, Elizabeth, 76.
Elizabeth Vasholz is expected to testify to seeing Hale — a man she recognized from her neighborhood — inside her house at 7124 N. 33rd St.
An intruder entered the Vasholzes' home about 9 a.m. Feb. 7 by breaking a window with a brick.
The couple went down to the first floor to investigate and were confronted by a man demanding money.
When the Vasholzes said they didn't have any money, the man moved furniture to block the doors and set a fire, prosecutors say.
Elizabeth Vasholz escaped. Raymond Vasholz died while trying to force open a window that had been painted shut.
The expected defense: that prosecutors can't prove that Hale was there to do anything but help his elderly neighbors get out of the burning house.
The trial is expected to last most of the week.