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Man pleads guilty to murder in Rosalie man's death

Man pleads guilty to murder in Rosalie man's death


NORFOLK, Neb. -- His first trial ended in a mistrial. Derek Olson did not wait to see what a second trial would bring.

Olson on Monday pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and guilty to second-degree arson for the March 10, 2017, death of Ernest Warnock, 64, and burning of his rural Rosalie, Nebraska, house.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Olson be sentenced to 40-60 years in prison for murder and four years for arson. Sentencing was set for July 18.

Charges of use of a weapon to commit a felony and cruelty to an animal will be dismissed.

Olson, 29, of Oakland, Nebraska, had been scheduled to stand trial in Cuming County District Court in West Point, Nebraska, on May 6. Monday's hearing took place in Norfolk.

Olson's case went to trial on March 12 and ended after nine days of testimony on March 26, when District Judge Mark Johnson declared a mistrial because a witness, during his testimony, mentioned a lie detector test given to Olson's father, Jody Olson. Jody Olson's testimony was key in the case, Johnson said, and it was important that jurors not be influenced by the fact that a witness took and may have passed a polygraph test.

Jody Olson, 50, of Oakland, pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder and is scheduled to be sentenced May 31.

At trial, Jody Olson testified that Derek Olson repeatedly stabbed Warnock and hit him with a hammer until he collapsed.

Warnock's body was found inside his burned house the following day, and an autopsy determined that he was dead before his home was set on fire. A dog also died in the fire.

Two others charged in the case have been sentenced to prison.

Becky Weitzenkamp, 43, of Oakland, was sentenced in October to 18-20 years in prison on one count of accessory to a felony. She pleaded guilty to buying a can of lighter fluid and driving Derek Olson to Warnock's house to set it on fire.

Jenna Merrill, 32, of Oakland, pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to a felony and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Copyright 2019 The Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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