Saline County District Judge Vicki Johnson wants more time to consider whether to move Bailey Boswell's murder trial in the Sydney Loofe case out of the county.
Johnson heard arguments on a series of pre-trial requests from Boswell's court-appointed attorney, Todd Lancaster of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, on Friday in Wilber.
Among those requests was a change-of-venue motion. Lancaster argued that media coverage before, during and after the trial of Aubrey Trail, Boswell's fiance, has prejudiced the jury pool in Saline County.
Trail was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder after three hours of deliberation by a jury in that trial.
In November 2017, Boswell brought the 24-year-old store clerk Loofe back to a Wilber apartment while the two were on a date arranged through the app Tinder, according to investigators.
They allege that earlier that day, Boswell and Trail had purchased tools used in Loofe's dismemberment, and that Trail had strangled Loofe.
Her remains were found in garbage bags in rural Clay County more than two weeks later.
Johnson on Friday allowed state prosecutors to add a conspiracy to commit murder charge to Boswell's case. She already faces counts of first-degree murder and unlawful disposal of human remains.
But the judge also took under advisement a challenge to her order barring the media from naming or broadcasting the likenesses of three witnesses in Boswell's trial.
They testified in Trail's trial on the state's behalf in open court, but Johnson shielded their identities after prosecutors had requested such protection in order to preserve their privacy.
"(Witnesses') privacy concerns are not good cause to exclude their testimony from expanded media coverage," Lancaster said in his legal request. "Similarly, witnesses privacy concerns do not outweigh defendant’s rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the corresponding rights under Article I, Section 11, of the Constitution of the State of Nebraska, to have a public trial. A public trial is one that is open to the public at all times and is not secret."
He also argued that Johnson's ruling violated the legal rights of journalists to report on the events that transpire in an open courtroom.
Boswell remains at the Saline County jail pending trial, which is set to begin in October.
Meanwhile, Trail's attorneys have sought to get him a new trial, in part over an incident where he slashed his own throat while in the courtroom.
A hearing on that request will be held next month.
In both Boswell and Trail's case, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.