Three-Judge Panel

The three-judge panel has been selected to hear the death penalty case for the man who was convicted of murdering Sydney Loofe.

In addition to Vicky Johnson, the Saline County District Judge who was on the bench for Aubrey Trail’s murder trial last summer, the Nebraska Judicial Branch announced its two random panel selections: Judge Julie D. Smith and Judge Michael A. Smith.

The panel will determine whether or not Trail will get the death penalty. He was convicted of first-degree murder on July 10. 

Judge Johnson will serve as the presiding judge on the panel. She has served as the judge of the district court for the 1st judicial district, serving Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Saline, and Thayer counties.

Judge Julie Smith also serves the 1st judicial district and was appointed district judge in 2017.

Judge Michael Smith is the district judge for the 2nd judicial district, serving Cass, Otoe and Sarpy counties since 2016.

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