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State drops 1 charge against Nebraska murder suspect

State drops 1 charge against Nebraska murder suspect


WEST POINT, Neb. -- Prosecutors have dropped one of the charges filed against a man accused of killing a rural Rosalie, Nebraska, man and setting his house on fire.

Cuming County Attorney Daniel Bracht made an oral motion during Tuesday's pretrial conference to dismiss a charge of accessory to a felony against Derek Olson. No written reason for the dismissal was filed.

Olson, 29, of Oakland, Nebraska, remains charged with second-degree murder, use of a weapon to commit a felony, first-degree arson and cruelty to an animal. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in Cuming County District Court for Olson's trial for the March 10, 2017, death of Ernest Warnock, 64.

District Judge Mark Johnson on Monday denied Olson's motion to suppress evidence collected from a cell phone during the investigation. Olson's attorney, Logan Hoyt, had contended that the cell phone was seized without a warrant.

Olson is charged with stabbing Warnock several times in the neck and head and hitting him in the head with a ball peen hammer after Warnock had stabbed Olson's father, Jody Olson, in the arm during a fight. According to court documents, Derek and Jody Olson were at Warnock's home to retrieve property belonging to Becky Weitzenkamp, who also was present.

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 died in the fire.

Jody Olson, 50, of Oakland, pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder and is scheduled to be sentenced April 4.

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 in November to one count of accessory to a felony and was sentenced in February 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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