UPDATE, 10 a.m. Tuesday: Aubrey Trail was not in court Tuesday morning when testimony resumed in his first-degree murder trial.
WILBER, Neb. — An already bizarre murder case got even more bizarre Monday as the defendant, Aubrey Trail, apparently attempted to kill himself in court.
As a trial witness left the stand Monday morning, Trail, suddenly and without warning, shouted and began slashing his neck with what appeared to be a small blade of some kind.
“Bailey is innocent, and I curse you all,” he yelled, just before rapidly slashing at the right side of his neck.
Trail crumpled to the ground, with blood visible on his neck, as deputies rushed to grab his weapon. Trail had fallen out of a wheelchair he’s been using during the trial as Saline County deputies grabbed him.
He appeared pale, his eyes were closed and he wasn’t moving as rescue personnel loaded the 52-year-old defendant into an ambulance for a trip to the hospital. A cleaning crew was dispatched to the courtroom to clean up blood on the floor.
But one of his defense attorneys said later Monday that Trail was in the process of being released from a hospital and was expected to be in court on Tuesday morning when testimony resumes.
“We still think we can get a fair trial,” said Ben Murray, a court-appointed attorney from Hebron.
Saline County District Judge Vicky Johnson ordered that Trail be handcuffed “for obvious reasons” for the rest of the trial.
Trail and his girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, 24, both face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in the death and dismemberment of Lincoln store clerk Sydney Loofe.
Loofe, 24, disappeared on Nov. 16, 2017, after arranging a date, via the Internet dating app Tinder, with Boswell.
Shortly afterward, Trail and Boswell took to social media to maintain that they were not involved. Some weeks later, Trail called reporters to say that he had killed Loofe, but that it was an accidental suffocation during a “sexual fantasy.”
The outburst in court on Monday — after Trail had sat quietly in his wheelchair during the first week of the trial — added just one more strange twist to the trial, which is scheduled to last two more weeks.
The fact that the disruption happened in the presence of the 12 jurors and three alternate jurors raised questions about whether jurors could remain objective, and whether the judge might have to order a mistrial.
After returning to court in the afternoon, Judge Johnson instructed jurors to “disregard the outburst (by Trail) ... and not consider it in your deliberations.”
“I am going to order that Mr. Trail appear in handcuffs for the rest of the trial for obvious reasons,” the judge said.
Johnson said she would question each juror, one by one, in her chambers about the disruption on Monday afternoon. She ordered jurors to not discuss the case with anyone and to “absolutely” not watch media coverage of Trail’s outburst in court.
“I’m sure there’s going to be extensive media coverage,” she told jurors.
Testimony, she said, is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Before the outburst, law enforcement officers testified about searches done at the Wilber apartment rented by Trail and Boswell, and of Loofe’s duplex unit in the Havelock area of Lincoln. Cameras and zip ties were among the items seized from the Wilber apartment.
On Friday, other law enforcement officials testified that more than a dozen sex toys were found in the Wilber apartment. The landlords also told of a strong smell of bleach coming from the unit the day after Loofe met Boswell for their date.
About 11:30 a.m. on Monday, a motel clerk from Spencer, Iowa, had just finished testifying about how Trail and Boswell had stayed three days at the motel, beginning on Thanksgiving Day 2017, when Trail stunned the courtroom with his outburst.
The jury was quickly moved out of the courtroom, and onlookers and news media were then ordered out.
Members of Loofe’s family, who have attended every day of the trial so far, were sitting in the front row when the outburst occurred.
Saline County Sheriff Alan Moore declined to comment about what sort of blade was used by Trail or whether a weapon had been confiscated from him.
The trial had already been disrupted once before. On Wednesday, testimony was delayed and then halted without explanation. The next day, the judge said that the reason for the delay was that Trail had been ill and could not be present in the courtroom. He has suffered two heart attacks and a stroke since being incarcerated .
Prosecutors maintain that Trail conspired for weeks to lure a young woman using social media for the purpose of homicide. But Trail’s court-appointed defense attorneys, as well as Trail himself, dispute that. They claim that Loofe was a willing participant in the filming of a sexual fantasy with Trail and two other women and that she was accidentally choked to death.
Boswell faces trial in October.
LINCOLN — Dale Wayne Quick of Lincoln died without family or friends at his side.
But at his burial Monday, some 300 people, by the funeral director’s count, had showed up. They packed the parking lot at Roper & Sons, with spillover vehicles being parked in the street. They filled two rooms inside. Later at Fairview Cemetery, there was a crowd.
Nearly all of the mourners were virtual strangers and included Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse and scores of veterans, like Quick.
Veterans know you don’t leave a man behind.
Funeral director Tom Roper first put out the word, alerting the American Legion Post 3 and Patriot Riders that he had “a gentleman,” who had died at age 91, after 17 years in a rehabilitation center with no apparent next of kin. Quick’s wife died 32 years ago. He had never remarried. They had no children and no obvious relatives.
Roper knew he could have held a simple service; Quick long ago had made arrangements and was to be buried next to his wife, Caroline, who died at age 42.
But Roper also knew he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t try to find some thread of Quick’s life he could weave into a community.
ATTN LINCOLN, NEBRASKA!— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 24, 2019
The funeral for Dale Quick, 91, a Korean War Veteran, is MONDAY MORNING 10 am.
He had no known survivors. Funeral home is appealing to veterans and community to attend
Roper and Sons South Lincoln Chapel,
3950 Hohensee Drive https://t.co/92aLzw5fqZ
When he learned that Quick, a retired U.S. Postal Service worker, was a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War, he got to work. And word spread far and wide on social media. CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted about it, urging veterans groups to show up Monday. And lo and behold, relatives were found.
A great-niece’s friend had made the connection through a genealogy website. Denise McVaugh of Barnes, Kansas, told her mother, Marsha Zabokrtsky, also of Kansas. Marsha, Quick’s niece, told her sister and three brothers. In all, five of them came.
They told the pastor, the Rev. Jane Florence of St. Paul United Methodist Church, more about their long-lost Uncle Dale. How he was happy, always smiling, “like a sunshine,” Marsha put it. How he’d watch “The Twilight Zone” on TV with his nephew, Steven. How he awed — and grossed out — his nieces and nephews with his fake eye, popping it in and out of his socket. How he’d lost that eye — Uncle Dale was shooting at a varmint inside their central Kansas home when a splinter hit him in the eye. How he once wrecked the family car and never drove much after that.
How once the bus stopped going to the part of Kansas where kin lived, he stopped coming. How he fell off the map of their lives sometime after his marriage and before his arrival at the Lancaster Rehabilitation Center, where he spent 17 years of his life.
Marsha, who is now 70, had written Dale over the years, but letters were returned. She and her siblings figured their Uncle Dale had died like his four other siblings, including their mother.
Hearing that he had been living all these years at a facility in Lincoln was shocking and sad, and yet, Marsha and her brothers Steven, Ron and Richard came to join all these strangers in what was an honorable, loving tribute.
“It was a sad moment,” Marsha said. “But we were so happy we found him.”
They also found comfort in a caring community of strangers who showed up on a sunny Monday to pay respects to a man they didn’t know. Surrounded by well-wishers, they sang “Amazing Grace.” They heard words from the Gospel of John, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” They listened as Florence put their uncle’s life into historical context. The year Dale Quick was born, 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic Ocean, work started on Mount Rushmore. Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States.
Florence told mourners that people are like water — flowing in and out of our lives. Whether these people stay connected or not, she said, “our faith tradition teaches that … we are not alone.” God is always there. And even in death, “we are surrounded by people of compassionate hearts and caring spirits to honor the lives of those they may never have even met.”
Those strangers lined the path outside Roper & Sons Funeral Home. They led the funeral procession. Some three dozen alone stood with American flags in a wide circle around the burial plot.
Funerals are for the living, not the dead, the pastor had said in an interview on the way to the cemetery. And perhaps this funeral is a reminder to ease loneliness of those living, whether they are far-flung relatives or strangers languishing alone.
Certainly, mourners found comfort in each other, in the fact that so many people had bothered to come so that a man would not be buried alone.
Mourners were old and young. Children came. They wore military uniforms, T-shirts, ball caps and leather biker vests showing their own military service branches. They stood in respectful silence as Florence read from the Book of Psalms and as the honor guard fired 21 shots into the air.
Taps was played.
Only the birds made noise as two members of the honor guard silently lifted the American flag off Quick’s coffin and folded it ever-so-carefully into a triangle and handed it to Marsha with solemn duty and sparing words, “on behalf of a grateful nation.”
She clutched the flag to her heart. And wept.
NITEROI, Brazil (AP) — Paul Fernando Schreiner paces around a sparsely furnished room, swatting mosquitoes from his arms and neck as he wonders if today will be any different from all the others.
The heavy, dense air of this city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro feels insufferable, nothing like the dry heat of Phoenix, where the 36-year-old had been living when he was deported by the U.S. last year.
Conversations are rare for Schreiner as he speaks no Portuguese and few people here speak anything but Portuguese. But language is only one problem: The food and even the sports Brazilians follow — Schreiner likes American football more than soccer — don't feel right. Inside his head, every day is a fight against boredom, loneliness and desperation.
"I am anything but Brazilian," said Schreiner, who was adopted from Brazil by a U.S. family three decades ago. He has a Nebraska birth certificate. "I am an American."
The U.S. government disagrees, underscoring the increasingly hard line the Trump administration is taking with legal residents deemed deportable.
U.S. immigration authorities went to such lengths to remove Schreiner that they may have broken Brazilian law and have made it virtually impossible for him to exercise his supposed Brazilian citizenship.
For adoption groups in the U.S., forcibly removing people like Schreiner violates basic human rights and amounts to triple jeopardy: Adoptees were abandoned as children in their home countries, are abandoned a second time by their adopted country and then are sent to a place where they have no family, don't speak the language and have few skills to survive.
"He shouldn't have to suffer a second time," his mother, Rosanna Schreiner, said through tears from her home outside Seward, Nebraska.
Schreiner was never naturalized a U.S. citizen but lived as an American for 30 years. He was legally adopted at age 5. He had a Social Security number and paid taxes.
U.S. adoption groups estimate that between 35,000 and 75,000 adoptees in the United States could be in such a situation today, many incorrectly believing that they are already citizens. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, signed by President Bill Clinton, aimed at streamlining the process by making citizenship automatic for children adopted from overseas. But there was an exception: For children already in America, only those under 18 when the law went into effect qualified. Six weeks too old, the law didn't apply to Schreiner.
Applying for citizenship based on eligibility as a green card holder was also out: When he was 21, Schreiner was convicted of statutory rape for having sex with a 14-year-old.
After spending nearly eight years in prison in Nebraska, Schreiner got his life together. He moved to Arizona, started pool cleaning and carpenter businesses and developed a close relationship with Jason Young, a pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Goodyear, a Phoenix suburb.
"He was working, getting acclimated to life after prison. Then I get a call one day that he was in prison again, this time through ICE," said Young, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me?'"
When agents surrounded his truck at 5 a.m. as he left for work Oct. 23, 2017, Schreiner wasn't totally surprised. Soon after his legal troubles began in 2004, he was notified by ICE that there was a deportation order against him. But a removal order did not always lead to deportation during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Schreiner also had the backing of Brazil.
"The official position of the Brazilian Government — stated in the Brazilian Law of the Child and Adolescent — is that adoption is an irrevocable act, which confers to the adopted child the same rights as those living with his or her biological parents," Alexandre Addor Neto, Brazil's then-consul general in Chicago, wrote to Homeland Security in 2004 in response to a U.S. request that Brazil issue travel documents for Schreiner's deportation.
"The Brazilian government does not issue travel documents for the purpose of deportation of a Brazilian national in this situation, unless that person freely manifests his or her clear and unequivocal wish to return to Brazil, which was not the case of Mr. Schreiner," the letter said.
After Schreiner's 2017 detention, Brazilian authorities again denied the U.S. government's request for documents to deport him.
Weeks turned into eight months in an immigration detention facility in Florence, Arizona. According to Schreiner and his father, Roger Schreiner, Brazilian consular officials in Los Angeles, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, told him that he could refuse to get on a plane.
Then, on June 12, 2018, Schreiner was awakened and told that he was being deported.
"Brazil is a corrupt government and will let you in," Schreiner said an ICE agent told him about the fact that he didn't have a passport.
Schreiner said he was told that if he made a fuss, he would be put in a "burrito bag," a type of straightjacket used for resisting arrestees.
In a statement, ICE said only that Schreiner had been deported and declined to comment further.
In handcuffs and accompanied by two agents, Schreiner said he was flown on a commercial flight from Phoenix to New York. However, in New York, American Airlines officials didn't want to let Schreiner on the flight to Rio de Janeiro.
The only documentation ICE agents had for Schreiner was a "certificate of nationality" that the consulate in Los Angeles, caving into U.S. pressure, had issued. It listed a single name, "Fernando," and the arbitrary birthdate Schreiner was given when he was adopted.
"He is a wanted felon in Brazil," Schreiner said the agents told airline officials, who relented and let him on the flight.
Once in Rio de Janeiro, there were more questions.
For several hours, Schreiner said, U.S. agents and Brazilian federal police argued about whether to let him in. After a series of phone calls and heated conversations, Schreiner was taken through the gift shop to the front of the airport. He was uncuffed and the agents left.
The Brazilian federal police did not respond to multiple requests from the Associated Press seeking comment. In a statement, Brazil's foreignministry said the consulate in Los Angeles was "instructed to formally confirm, before U.S. authorities, the Brazilian nationality of Mr. Schreiner, who had a final deportation order against him."
"I don't understand how somebody who had been living in the U.S. can be abandoned like this," said Segisfredo Silva Vanderlai, a 68-year-old pastor with whom Schreiner has been living. "He was thrown out like human garbage."
MEMORIES AND REGRETS
Schreiner doesn't remember much about his early years. His parents adopted him from an orphanage in Nova Iguaçu, a Rio municipality interspersed with slums controlled by heavily armed drug traffickers and paramilitary groups.
"I remember my older sister reaching into garbage cans too tall for me, and finding bananas and other foods to eat," Schreiner said. "I remember fear, running and hiding from older kids with guns."
At one point, Schreiner and his sister ended up in a house. It was there that his sister was taken away by people Schreiner just remembers as "bad men" and never heard from again. Schreiner said he ended up in an orphanage where he was repeatedly sexually molested, trauma that led to bed-wetting until he was a teenager.
Life on a farm in Nebraska with four other adopted siblings was happy, though Schreiner struggled with identity. Because of that, his parents said they put off his becoming a U.S. citizen until he was older and able to fully participate in the decision.
"It was a big miscalculation on our part," Roger Schreiner said. "It never occurred to us that any of our children could go to prison."
Nearly a year since being deported, Schreiner is still in limbo.
He has been unable to get a Brazilian birth certificate, an identification card or a tax ID number needed to work.
Coming into the country through the backdoor with a certificate of citizenship referring to him only as "Fernando" has been one obstacle with civil registry officials. Another is that there is no original record of his birth, a common situation of adoptees and other poor people in Brazil.
Vanderlai and others have been trying to help Schreiner navigate the bureaucracy. His best hope, if he can ever get a Brazilian passport, is to try to immigrate to Canada, where he speaks the language and would be closer to family.
"Deportation is for illegal immigrants," Schreiner said. "I didn't request to come to the U.S., and I didn't cross a border."