Judge rejects death penalty challenge in 4 Nebraska killings

Apr 4, 2023, 11:57 AM

FILE - Police tape hangs on a tree outside the home of 53-year-old Michele Ebeling, Aug. 5, 2022, i...

FILE - Police tape hangs on a tree outside the home of 53-year-old Michele Ebeling, Aug. 5, 2022, in Laurel, Neb. Ebeling was among four people found dead the day before in two burning homes in this small community in northeastern Nebraska, authorities said. On Thursday, March 30, 2023, a Nebraska judge rejected a challenge to the death penalty in the case of a man charged in the killings of four people last summer in the small town of Laurel in the northeastern corner of the state. (AP Photo/Margery A. Beck, File)

(AP Photo/Margery A. Beck, File)

A Nebraska judge has rejected a challenge to the death penalty in the case of a man charged in the killings of four people last summer in a small town in the northeastern corner of the state.

Judge Bryan Meismer said in a ruling late last week that the lawyers representing Jason Jones, 42, didn’t prove that Nebraska’s death penalty law is unconstitutional, and it’s too soon to determine if that penalty is appropriate in this case because it is still early in the process. Jones has yet to officially enter a plea in the case.

Prosecutors said in January that they intend to seek the death penalty in this case because the killings were done at the same time other felonies were committed and at least two of the killings were carried out to conceal the other two. Plus, prosecutors said Jones set fire to the victims’ homes in an effort to help conceal his identity.

Jones is charged with arson, weapons counts and four counts of first-degree murder in the August killings of Gene Twiford, 86, and his wife, Janet Twiford, 85; their daughter, Dana Twiford, 55; and Michele Ebeling, 53.

Jones was arrested after officers found him with severe burns hiding in his wife’s house, which sits across the street from Ebeling’s home in Laurel. He was hospitalized for two months before being released and moved to a prison in Lincoln.

Jones is being held without bond. He is now scheduled to appear in court May 22. His lawyer declined to comment on the case Tuesday.

Jones’ wife, 43-year-old Carrie Jones, has also been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Gene Twiford as well as tampering with evidence and being an accessory for reportedly hiding her husband as authorities searched for him. Prosecutors said she told investigators that she wanted her husband to kill Twiford because she says he had been verbally harassing her with sexual comments and other remarks for a couple years. Prosecutors said at a February hearing that Carrie Jones either encouraged the killing or participated in it herself.

Carrie Jones has also not yet entered a plea to the charges against her because she is in the process of challenging them. She is being held on $1 million bail. Her attorney didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to a message about the case.

Laurel is a community of less than 1,000 people, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Omaha.

National News

File - Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the Apple Watch at the Apple event at the Bill Graham Civic Aud...

Associated Press

Apple is expected to unveil sleek headset aimed at thrusting the masses into alternate realities

Apple appears poised to unveil a long-rumored headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world, while also testing the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination. After years of speculation, the stage is set for the widely anticipated announcement to be made Monday […]

4 hours ago

FILE - A person, reflected in glass, walks near the Tropicana Las Vegas on May 16, 2023, in Las Veg...

Associated Press

Las Vegas ballpark pitch revives debate over public funding for sports stadiums

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Joe Lombardo wants to help build Major League Baseball’s smallest ballpark, arguing that the worst team in baseball can boost Las Vegas, a city striving to call itself a sports mecca. Debate about public funding for private sports clubs has been revived with the Oakland Athletics ballpark proposal. The […]

1 day ago

FILE - Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speaks at an ...

Associated Press

Carter and the Kings: A friendship and alliance — but after MLK’s assassination

ATLANTA (AP) — The voice of Martin Luther King Sr., a melodic tenor like his slain son, carried across Madison Square Garden, calming the raucous Democrats who had nominated his friend and fellow Georgian for the presidency. “Surely, the Lord sent Jimmy Carter to come on out and bring America back where she belongs,” the […]

1 day ago

Last seasons plant stalks are seen at Seth Jacobs' marijuana planting field at his Slack Hollow far...

Associated Press

Slow start to New York’s legal pot market leaves farmers holding the bag

ARGYLE, N.Y. (AP) — Seth Jacobs has about 100 bins packed with marijuana flower sitting in storage at his upstate New York farm. And that’s a problem. There aren’t enough places to sell it. The 700 pounds (318 kilograms) of pungent flower was harvested last year as part of New York’s first crop of legally […]

1 day ago

FILE - Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions con...

Associated Press

Wisconsin Republicans look for rebound, Democrats stay on offensive as 2024 fights loom

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin once again be a battleground. Democrats, recognizing that four of the past six presidential elections in the state have been decided by less than a percentage point, are trying not to become overconfident in the face of recent gains. They are gathering for their annual state convention starting June 10 […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

Michigan wildfire prompts evacuations, threatens multiple buildings

GRAYLING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A wildfire in Michigan burned more than 1,000 acres (1.5 square miles) and prompted emergency evacuations and road closures Saturday, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The wildfire located within Grayling Township, about 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Grayling, is moving west and southwest and threatens multiple […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Judge rejects death penalty challenge in 4 Nebraska killings