UPDATE: Oldson Trial Day 9: Jury Begins Deliberation

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

The jury will now decide if John Oldson is innocent or guilty for the 1989 murder of an Ord woman.

They only deliberated for about an hour on Thursday before breaking for the night.

Oldson's defense attorneys rested their case today with Oldson choosing not to testify himself.

In closing arguments the prosecution admitted their evidence is circumstantial, but says Oldson was the last person seen with Cathy Beard on May 31, 1989, and told the jury that Oldson's story evolved and changed every time he spoke with police.

The defense says the truth is that no one knows how or when Beard was killed, and says there's plenty of reasonable doubt.

They finished presenting their case by giving other evidence that says someone else killed Beard.

The Diary Pages

The defense was unable to enter pages of a diary that was mailed to Oldson's mother shortly after his arrest last year, but did question the Valley County Sheriff about the investigation of their contents.

The diary excerpts describe the kidnapping, rape, and death of at least four women, one of whom the defense says could be Beard, though she is only referred to as "Kathy."

Sheriff Casey Hurlburt says the alleged author had no recollection of the diary and was "appalled" at its contents. He says a search of her property in rural Garfield County turned up nothing.

The defense argues that the names, dates, and descriptions of the other kidnapped women being written about match up with real missing people.

Armed Robber Says He Killed Beard

The defense also entered a statement given by a now deceased Ord construction boss that points a finger at another suspect.

Back in 1989 he told police that one of his crew, a man named Rex White, told him that he killed Beard by skinning her alive.

Police dug up a concrete slab that White helped pour at a cabin near Lake Ericson, but found nothing.

White was later convicted for the armed robbery at the Hillcrest Motel that happened the same night Beard was last seen. He was one of the two men who left the Ya'll Come Back Now Saloon and went to the Someplace Else Tavern looking for Beard that night. Both men told police Beard was gone when they got there.

Residual Hearsay

Both sides say this has been an unusual trial because of what's called residual hearsay. That's when a written statement or report is used to speak for someone instead of having them testify in person.

This had to be done because after 23 years some of the both the prosecution and defense's witnesses are dead.

Deliberation will continue Friday morning. If the jury does not reach a verdict by Friday evening, deliberation will resume on Monday.

Stay with 10/11 & Nebraska Central News for the latest on this developing story or follow Megan Johnson (@MeganJohnsonNCN) for updates from court.


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