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.
1 of 45
A former convict was charged with using a drone to attempt to drop marijuana into the Lincoln Correctional Center yard. Read more
A man walking home from work along the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge used a pocket knife to fight off two attackers, sending both to the hospital. Read more
An Omahan was scammed out of $4,800 after trying to buy College World Series tickets. Read more
The Montana man known as the “AK-47 Bandit” who robbed several banks in at least five states, including Nebraska, was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison. Read more
A mall security guard was arrested on suspicion of making terroristic threats after threatening to shoot at suspected shoplifters fleeing in a vehicle. Read more
Travis Fieldgrove, who had sex with a woman who was both his wife and his daughter, was sentenced to two years in prison. Read more
A 28-year-old Omaha man was accused of spanking a 2-year-old girl so hard that she suffered multiple internal injuries. Read more
A man walking in Lincoln was struck in the genitals by a bullet after he dropped a .22-caliber handgun and it discharged. Read more
An 18-year-old man who police say was driving a stolen car was fatally shot by a friend of the car’s owner in Council Bluffs. Read more
A Tecumseh, Nebraska, man shot two former co-workers after they forced their way into his home and tried to fight with him, according to the State Patrol. Read more
A North Carolina man was arrested by Lincoln police after they say he attempted to kidnap a 14-year-old girl and take her to live with him in Wisconsin. Read more
A Shelton woman was driving north on U.S. Highway 281 when a man who’d been kicked out of another vehicle forced his way into her van. The woman, frightened by the man, took her infant and left the vehicle. But the suspect didn’t get far because the key fob remained with the woman. Read more
A staff member at the Tecumseh State Prison was attacked when an inmate’s cell door was mistakenly opened. Read more
More than 200 dead cattle and another 200-plus in questionable condition were found on property in Fillmore County, Nebraska, investigators said. Read more
The SUV of an Omaha woman was repeatedly rammed from behind in a Taco Bell drive-thru lane by a man who later got into the woman’s vehicle and drove it into the concrete base around a light pole. Read more
A 17-year-old boy was taken into custody after he took an unloaded 9 mm handgun to school, La Vista police said. Read more
A woman was injured after being put in the trunk of a car that fled police and crashed, police said. The woman had been reported abducted. Read more
A trip to Arby’s for lunch turned into a dangerous road-rage incident in Elkhorn when a driver got out of his car with a handgun and shot the tire on another man’s pickup truck. Read more
A 33-year-old man accused of leading Omaha police officers on a high-speed chase across the city had tried to run over officers, a prosecutor said, before the chase ended at The World-Herald building. Read more
A teenager was sentenced after luring a man for sex and fatally wounding him during a robbery. Read more
DNA helped lead police to man charged in a Guaca Maya slaying. Read more
A former U.S. Air Force counterintelligence specialist who defected to Iran has been charged with revealing classified information to the government in Tehran, including the code name and secret mission of a Pentagon program, prosecutors said. Read more
A masked man shot a clerk inside the Bucky’s convenience store at 30th and Dodge Streets about 3 a.m. She was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center with an injury that wasn’t considered life-threatening. Read more
A 25-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound after he went to confront a 50-year-old man at his home. Read more
An Iowa woman has been charged with five felonies after authorities alleged that she stole $3,535 worth of pull-tab lottery tickets while she worked at a convenience store. Read more
A 33-year-old man accused of cutting his girlfriend with a sword was covered in blood when police arrived at a house in Lincoln. Read more
A parolee is back in jail after punching a man who was a Tinder date for his girlfriend’s friend, according to a court affidavit. Read more
A grenade found in a dumpster in southeast Nebraska was disposed of by Nebraska State Patrol troopers. Read more
A Lincoln man upset that his wife and a friend were talking too loudly as he was trying to get to sleep walked downstairs and pointed a gun at his wife, police said. Read more
DNA evidence led police to issue an arrest warrant in an unsolved 2013 slaying of a Ralston woman. Read more
An Omaha man was arrested after an investigation indicated he had allowed two adult pit bulls to starve to death. Read more
A standoff with Omaha police ended after a man fell off an SUV, where he had been standing and shouting. Read more
Law officers from multiple agencies converged in rural Nebraska on Monday after a man exchanged gunfire twice with officers and escaped from a traffic stop by stealing a sheriff’s vehicle. Read more
An Iowa woman who went to prison for sex with 17-year-old ward of the state said she feels shame and remorse. Read more
The former pharmacy director for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center accused of embezzling more than $4.6 million from the hospital pleaded guilty to wire fraud Monday in U.S. District Court. Read more
A 22-year-old man reportedly drove drunk to the parking lot of the Lancaster County Jail, where his vehicle was spotted weaving and driving over an island. His blood-alcohol content was .172, Lincoln police said. Read more
An injured, naked woman was found outdoors in midtown Omaha on Monday and taken to the Nebraska Medical Center, said Officer Phil Anson, a police spokesman. Read more
A woman has filed a police report accusing Steve LeClair, an Omaha firefighter and the president of the firefighters union, of assaulting her in November. Read more
A Nebraska woman who has been charged with incest told a police officer that she wanted to have sex with her father because of a competition with her half sister to see who could do it first. Read more
Omahan 'rings' in the new year in prison for theft of $629,000 wedding ring. Read more
A club basketball coach who promised weekends of tournaments, personalized jerseys and cookie dough for fundraising took parents’ money and didn’t deliver, authorities say. Read more
Omaha ended 2018 on a high note not seen for decades — no one was criminally slain in Omaha in the final three months of the year. Read more