Defense says Trail 'is not guilty,' murder charge can't be proven 'beyond reasonable doubt'
WILBER - After the state's closing statement Wednesday morning, defense attorney Joe Murray followed suit in the afternoon.
Much like his opening statement four weeks ago, Murray insists Trail and Bailey Boswell "had no plan" to kill Sydney Loofe.
While Trail admitted Tuesday to fabricating parts of his original story about Loofe's death, Murray contended that there were still many things he said that wound up being true.
"He told law enforcement where they could find Sydney's phone, Murray said. "And they did (by the Wilber cemetery)."
Throughout numerous statements to law enforcement, Trail described in detail Loofe's struggles with depression and marijuana. He admitted to using bleach to clean the apartment. He said Loofe died accidentally of strangulation. He said K.B.'s cat collar would be found near the body in Clay County
"All checked out," Murray stated. "The only way they can prove that Sydney Loofe was in the apartment is by his statements. They found no evidence that she had ever been there. No clothing, no personal belongings. No DNA. No. Nothing."
State prosecutor Michael Guinan rebutted.
"(Loofe's) phone shut off in Wilber," he said. "The car left the apartment the next day, and only made one trip to Clay County. And what was found there? Loofe's dismembered body."
Trail testified Tuesday that he first met Loofe in the spring of 2017 at the N 27th Street Menard's, gave her some money and she helped him with his antique business for a short time.
Trail also said that he, Boswell and Loofe stayed at the Grand Weaver Hotel in Falls City 2-3 times that summer and early fall.
Two Grand Weaver desk clerks, JoLana Randall and Cathy Judd, said in testimony Tuesday they were certain they had seen Loofe in the lobby with Trail and Boswell on 2-3 occasions in 2017.
Guinan said this was a "misidentification," but credited the two clerks for "wanting to help."
"Oh please," Murray rebutted. "Two clerks? You can't write that off. They're legitimate. Further confirmation of what Mr. Trail has said. You can't discard evidence that doesn't go your way."
Murray said during opening statements on June 18 that "Mr. Trail is not a very nice man."
He echoed that sentiment Wednesday.
"I don't like him all that much," Murray said of Trail. "I doubt you (the jury) does, either. But, he's entitled to be treated fairly. This can't be some kind of runaway justice. You can't let his case be decided by Facebook, or the media."
On Monday, Drs. Michelle Elieff and Steven Symes, both anthropologists, studied Loofe's remains thoroughly in an autopsy and bone study.
Symes focused specifically on the cut marks left on Loofe's bones. While he concluded that Trail used a hacksaw to dismember her, he ruled out that the blade used "was fresh out of the box."
"That hacksaw (Trail) bought from Home Depot (on Nov. 15) is now off the table, thanks to Dr. Symes," Murray said. "The only evidence the state has is that (Loofe) was dismembered by something similar. This does not show intent of why he purchased the hacksaw."
Guinan rebutted this, also.
"If he didn't use that new hacksaw, then where did it go? All of his other purchases were found in the apartment. Not that. He got rid of it, because he used it."
The tin snips Trail purchased were also never found.
Dr. Elieff did conclude that bruises found on Loofe's spine, back and forehead during the autopsy were "perimortem," meaning they occurred at or near the time of death.
There were also marks found on both of Loofe's wrists that suggested that she had been restrained.
"She fought that night," Guinan said. "She fought, and did not survive. They seized on her."
As for the bleach and drop cloth purchases, Murray said Trail didn't need more bleach for any specific purpose, other than cleaning antiques.
"There was already plenty of bleach (at the apartment)," Murray said. "And the drop cloths? Those were found all over. I'm sure he had plenty of uses for those. You saw all the items in that apartment. There are things in there that need to be cleaned."
Last Wednesday, a young woman identified as A.H. testified that she went to WalMart in Beatrice with Trail and Boswell in August 2017 to find someone to kill.
A.H. claims that Trail asked her if she would like to kill a "short blonde girl with glasses" that he had picked out randomly in the produce section.
Later testimony showed that the blonde girl Trail allegedly picked out traveled to California, and the murder was called off.
"Because Aubrey put a stop to it," Murray reaffirmed.
As for the coded letters, which were published as evidence Tuesday morning, Murray argued that those were "just a repeat of the fabricated story (Trail) told to law officers."
In several letters written in the Saline County Jail in March 2018, Trail told Boswell to tell authorities that he acted alone in killing Loofe, and that he wanted to make Boswell "look like the victim."
Trail also said in the letters that Boswell's Tinder accounts were used to recruit young women to make a snuff film - a film in which someone is killed.
"He was just letting Bailey know what he had already said."
Overall, Murray suggested that there's not enough evidence to prove whether or not Loofe was killed intentionally or accidentally.
"That's reasonable doubt," he said. "No plan equals no premeditation. Does common sense tell you they had a plan? They dumped the body in a road ditch. Is that the best you can do? No effort to conceal it at all.
"Then, they go to Council Bluffs for a little while. Then, they go to Grand Island. Then, Kearney. Then, back to Iowa. They stay in Spencer, and then Ames. Then, they decide to go to Branson (MO). Does that suggest to you they had a plan?"
Murray argued that first and second degree murder are "off the table" for Trail.
"Involuntary manslaughter and not guilty are your two options," he said. "There was no plan, so you can't charge him with conspiracy."
Guinan maintains that Trail and Boswell had "conspired for months" to kill someone, and that Loofe was the real victim - not Boswell, as Trail had suggested in the letters.
"The plan is, they weren't going to get caught," Guinan said. "They weren't counting on the dominoes falling so soon, but they did. The cops were onto them just days after Loofe's death.
"(Trail's) actions show that he killed Sydney Loofe pre-meditatively in association with Boswell...beyond a reasonable doubt."
Trail admitted Tuesday that there was no "sexual fantasy" on the night of the 15th as previously stated. He did, however, say Loofe's death was the accidental result of strangling during sex with Boswell.
On Tuesday morning, Tara Gehring, a friend of Loofe's from Lincoln, said she knew Loofe very well. Loofe had told her once that she "wouldn't get intimate with someone unless she knew them for awhile."
Murray previously pointed to pictures and memes found on Loofe's iCloud account that depicted strangulation and anal sex. He pointed to these as evidence that Loofe was on board with being strangled during sex.
"Does that make sense?" Guinan asked the jury. "Just because you have some picture on your iCloud means that you're ready to have sex and be strangled by these people you had just met? At their place?"
Murray said that 844 exhibits had been presented as evidence over the last four weeks. 117 alone were from Trail's apartment.
"Much of it has been admitted," Murray concluded. "It's been given for the impression of overwhelming. Like confetti. Mr. Trail has admitted guilt to improper disposal. He is not guilty on the other charges (murder, conspiracy). It cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
Trail has pleaded not guilty to both conspiracy to commit a felony and first degree murder. He faces the death penalty if found guilty on the murder charge.
The jury began deliberations Wednesday afternoon. A verdict is expected by the end of the week.