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Murder suspects to stand trial separately

August 7, 2018
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Jody Olson

WEST POINT, Neb. -- A father and son will stand trial separately for the death of a Rosalie, Nebraska, man.

District Judge Mark Johnson on Monday denied a request by prosecutors to join the cases of Jody and Derek Olson and try them at the same time for the March 10, 2017, death of Ernest Warnock.

Jody Olson, 49, and his son, Derek Olson, 28, both of Oakland, Nebraska, are charged in Cuming County District Court with second-degree murder, accessory to a felony, use of a weapon to commit a felony and first-degree arson. Derek Olson also is charged with cruelty to an animal.

Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Michael Guinan, who is serving as a special deputy Cuming County Attorney, filed a motion in April to join the trials.

Johnson said in his ruling that a joined trial could prejudice Derek Olson and raise the potential for a mistrial depending on whether Jody Olson were to testify. Johnson noted that it’s not known if Jody Olson will be called to testify.

Derek Olson is scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 13. Jody Olson’s trial had been scheduled for last month, and Johnson said he would set a new date in a future order.

According to court documents, Derek and Jody Olson and Becky Weitzenkamp were at Warnock’s rural Rosalie home to retrieve property belonging to Weitzenkamp. A fight broke out, and Warnock stabbed Jody Olson in the arm before Derek Olson stabbed Warnock several times in the neck and head and hit him in the head with a ball peen hammer, court documents said. Warnock died from his injuries.

Weitzenkamp was accused of buying a can of lighter fluid and driving Derek Olson to Warnock’s home to set the house on fire after Warnock’s death.

Warnock’s body was found inside the burned rubble of his home the next day. A dog trapped inside the house died in the fire.

An autopsy found that Warnock, 64, was dead before his home was set on fire.

Weitzenkamp, 42, of Oakland, pleaded guilty in February to one count of accessory to a felony and is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 4.

Jenna Merrill, 32, of Oakland, has pleaded not guilty to accessory to a felony for allegedly providing false information to authorities. Her trial is scheduled for Nov. 13.

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