Judge to Decide Fate of Man Convicted in Nebraska Sex Slaying Case
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ The fate of a man convicted in the torture slaying of a teen-age college student rests in the hands of a judge.
Lancaster County District Judge Donald Endacott said he’ll make the decision himself whether Roger Bjorklund will be sentenced to death or life in prison.
On Wednesday, a jury found Bjorklund, 31, guilty in the slaying of Candice Harms.
The 18-year-old University of Nebraska-Lincoln freshman had been sexually assaulted, tortured and mutilated before she was shot to death. Her body was found in a shallow grave more than two months after she disappeared last year.
County Attorney Gary Lacey said he was surprised by the judge’s decision to consider the sentence himself in a capital case. Endacott could have asked the state Supreme Court chief to appoint two judges to help him.
The sentencing hearing begins Jan. 24.
Bjorklund’s accomplice, Scott Barney, 24, led police to the grave and pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a prosecution promise not to seek the death penalty.
Reacting to Wednesday’s guilty verdict, Miss Harms’ father, Stan, said ″Candi would probably tell me, ‘Dad, I told you all along God would handle this.’ ″
″God handled it,″ he said.
In a taped confession to police, Bjorklund said that Barney shot Miss Harms first, but that he also shot her. His lawyer told jurors they should discount the statements because police obtained them by plying Bjorklund with cigarettes and diet soda.