Gage County Preparing for Murder Trial Moved From Nemaha County
BEATRICE – Gage County is in the process of making security preparations for an upcoming trial moved to Beatrice on a change of venue.
Joshua Keadle is charged with murder in the disappearance of Peru State College student Tyler “Ty” Thomas. The Nemaha County District Court trial was moved to Gage County, after Judge Rick Schreiner granted a defense motion for a change of venue.
Gage County Sheriff Millard Gustafson addressed the county board Wednesday, about the preparations for the trial set to begin September 16th and possibly last three weeks.
"The screening station, we're going to put everyone down on the first floor...and try to get as much information out to the board and the public as we can as time goes on, so you'll be aware. Currently, we're planning on the south door of the courthouse to remain open for DMV traffic, but will be blocked to the lobby. They'll have to go back around if they want to do general traffic. We're going to keep it to the lower east door of the courthouse for entrance....coming and going", said Gustafson.
Normally, the electronic screening station is on the third floor of the courthouse, where county and district courtrooms and offices are located. Gustafson says office space for state prosecutors will likely be located on the fourth floor, with defense attorney conference area on the third floor, next to the county judge’s office.
Gustafson says county expenses will be tracked, and submitted for reimbursement during the trial, which is drawing considerable media attention and includes a long list of witnesses for the proceedings. Gustafson says he is hiring two extra officers to be on duty during the trial.
Gage County Board member Gary Lytle offered an alternative for security during the trial. Lytle said, "why don't we leave the screening station where it's at, and have extra officers at both doors and do pocket checks or whatever as they come through...and then do a complete screen as they go upstairs?"
Despite possible inconvenience to the public conducting normal business, Gustafson says he must look at the situation from a security standpoint.
He said, "..so if the public gets mad, they get mad. That's why I'm trying to let people know in advance, on this".
Gage County Attorney Roger Harris said in a trial like this, security screening cannot be a selective process. Said Harris, "the employees are going to have to go through....now it will probably be much more limited, but we're all going to go through that. Now, unfortunately, there's a lot of courthouses that do that on a daily basis".
Lytle contends his suggestion would offer more security, not less…since persons coming into the building would be screened at two locations.
Gustafson noted there could be up to one hundred prospective jurors for the trial.