LINCOLN — The man accused of killing and dismembering a 24-year-old Lincoln store clerk is asking that photographs of the victim’s body, as well as videotape of him and his girlfriend buying cutting equipment, not be shown at his trial.
The court-appointed attorney for Aubrey Trail said showing jurors the “gruesome” photos of the dismembered body would be inflammatory and would jeopardize Trail’s right to a fair trial.
“They only show stuff that happened after death, so we don’t think it’s relevant to the murder charge,” said the defense attorney, Ben Murray, adding that the photos could lead a jury to rule on “emotional grounds” rather than on the evidence.
Trail, 52, is charged with first-degree murder, improper disposal of a body and conspiracy to commit murder in the November 2017 slaying of Sydney Loofe, a clerk at Menard’s in Lincoln who disappeared after arranging a date with Trail’s girlfriend via the dating app Tinder. The girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, 25, is also charged with murder and improper disposal of a body.
Both Trail and Boswell face the death penalty if found guilty of first-degree murder.
Authorities have said they obtained surveillance video of Trail and Boswell at a Lincoln store buying equipment that could be used to dismember a body just hours before Loofe’s final date with Boswell.
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Murray, in a motion filed Friday, said that none of the items purchased related to how Loofe died and that showing the video could confuse and mislead the jury.
Loofe’s remains were found about three weeks after she disappeared. They were in several plastic bags in several locations near Edgar, Nebraska, a rural area about an hour’s drive west of Wilber, where Trail and Boswell were living in a basement apartment.
Sometime after the pair were arrested, Trail called news reporters and said that he had suffocated Loofe to death but that it was an accident that happened during a sexual role-playing fantasy. He also said that Boswell was not present but that she helped dispose of the body later.
In another legal motion filed Friday, Murray asked that the three charges filed against Trail be separately tried in three trials. In the motion, the defense attorney said evidence about the disposal and dismemberment of the body, if presented to the same jury, could prejudice them in deciding on the murder charge.
Also on Friday, lawyers with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office filed a motion to block the press from taking photographs or video in the courtroom of three women who allegedly hung out with Trail and Boswell. The prosecutors, in their motion, did not specify why they wanted to bar such coverage but pointed out that the court has the discretion to do so in the interest of a “fair proceeding.”
Saline County District Judge Vicky Johnson had not ruled on the motions as of Friday evening. Trail’s trial is scheduled to begin on June 17 in Wilber.