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Aubrey Trail Trial, 7.10

Aubrey Trail (left) looks in the direction of the jury during judge's instructions on on July 10 in Saline County District Court.

The state’s Supreme Court chief justice has appointed two judges to help decide whether Aubrey Trail ends up on death row for the killing and dismemberment of 24-year-old Sydney Loofe of Lincoln.

Saline County District Judge Vicky Johnson, the trial judge, will consider aggravating and mitigating evidence along with Johnson County District Judge Julie D. Smith and Cass County District Judge Michael A. Smith, who were randomly chosen.

Chief Justice Mike Heavican issued the order Thursday. A date for the hearing hasn’t yet been set.

The court confirmed that Julie Smith and Michael Smith are not related.

After a Saline County jury quickly found Trail guilty of first-degree murder in July, Trail opted for a three-judge panel to consider evidence to decide whether prosecutors can prove an aggravating factor necessary for capital punishment.

The Nebraska Attorney General’s office is alleging the murder "manifested exceptional depravity by ordinary standards of morality and intelligence.”

At the hearing, the three-judge panel also could hear evidence by defense attorneys regarding mitigating factors before weighing if Trail should receive a death sentence or life in prison for Loofe’s murder.

Bailey Boswell, Trail’s co-defendant, is set for trial in March in Lexington.

She and Trail both were charged with killing Loofe, who went missing after going on a date with Boswell in November 2017.

Loofe's body later was found dismembered in rural Clay County.

Aubrey Trail in court

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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