Lincoln Man Accused of Molesting 5 Girls Over Several Years

Michael Martin

Michael Martin

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A 67-year-old Lincoln man has been accused of molesting five girls over several years.

Lincoln Police Sgt. Brian Agnew said in court documents that Michael J. Martin molested the girls between 1997 and 2015. Martin faces one count of first-degree sexual assault of a child and five counts of third-degree sexual assault of a child.

Court records show Martin is being represented by an attorney from the Lancaster County Public Defender’s Office. A message left with the office was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Police say Martin knew the girls and in some cases the alleged abuse happened over several years. Agnew said the youngest girl was 3 years old when the abuse began.

FBI Says Iowa Credit Union Robbery Linked to ‘AK-47 Bandit’

ak47-banditMASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — Federal authorities believe a man suspected of robbing a credit union in Iowa with an assault rifle is the same man suspected of robbing banks in several states.

The FBI says the “AK-47 Bandit” robbed banks in California, Idaho and Washington in 2012 and a bank in Nebraska in 2014. The suspect carries an assault rifle similar to an AK-47 into the banks.

Authorities say a man entered the Iowa Heartland Credit Union in Mason City on Tuesday wearing a black ski mask. He was armed with an AK-47 and left with an undisclosed amount of money.

The FBI is offering up to $100,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in connection with the shooting of a police officer during one of the robberies in California.

Omaha Deejay Charged with Hate Crime in Assault of Transgender Woman

Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A deejay has been charged with a hate crime after police say he assaulted a transgender woman at an Omaha bar.

45-year-old Stephen E. Thompson was charged Monday with one count of third-degree assault that is being prosecuted as a hate crime. A police report says 27-year-old Kara Jeslyn Barone was at a bar for a party Friday when she was assaulted.

Barone told authorities she went into the women’s restroom when Thompson tried to force his way in. Barone said she pushed him outside the door and locked him out. She said when Thompson’s girlfriend, who was in the restroom, opened the door, Thompson punched her and shouted anti-gay slurs.

Thompson was arrested that night and is being held on a $50,000 bail. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney.


Crews Contained Gas Spill in Omaha Suburb, Official Says

police-lights-redBENNINGTON, Neb. (AP) — Crews have contained a gasoline spill estimated at 1,000 gallons from a truck filling up a tank at a convenience store in the northwest Omaha suburb of Bennington.

The spill occurred about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Omaha, Irvington and Bennington firefighters worked for hours to contain the spill. The store was closed at the time.

The gas drained into a storm sewer. No injuries or evacuations have been reported.

Bennington Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Carlsen says a strong odor of gasoline will remain in the area Wednesday. Bennington Fire Chief Bob Raymond says remediation efforts will include surface cleanup and a flushing of the storm sewer.

Killer’s Lawsuit Against Nebraska Prison System Dismissed

Nikko Jenkins

Nikko Jenkins

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A lawsuit filed against the Nebraska prison system by a man convicted of first-degree murder in four Omaha shooting deaths in 2013 has been dismissed.

In an order issued Friday, a Lancaster County District judge said Nikko Jenkins failed to serve the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services with notice of the lawsuit, as required by law.

Jenkins, who was acting as his own attorney, had sought $1.7 million in damages, saying the state failed to adequately treat his mental illness while he was incarcerated for years before his 2013 release.

Following his release, Jenkins shot and killed four people over a 10-day period. He was convicted last year, but his sentencing is on hold to see if a law passed repealing Nebraska’s death penalty goes into effect later this month.

Lawsuit Over Death of Peru State College Student

Tyler "Ty" Thomas

Tyler “Ty” Thomas

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Nebraska college officials over the disappearance of a 19-year-old student.

Judge John Gerrard said in his ruling Tuesday that the officials could have done more to protect Peru State student Tyler Thomas but also said their actions did not rise to the level of deliberate indifference.

Thomas disappeared in 2010 after leaving a party. A death certificate was issued in 2013, though her body hasn’t been found.

Her family filed a lawsuit for wrongful death against the Nebraska State Colleges board of trustees and a man who was a fellow student and was suspected in Thomas’ disappearance. The college board requested the lawsuit’s dismissal.

The man wasn’t charged in her case but has been imprisoned for an unrelated sexual assault conviction.

8 People Apply for Open Nebraska Legislative Seat

ne-legislature-13LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The governor has eight applicants to consider when filling an open seat representing an Omaha district in the Legislature.

The seat was left vacant when state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist took a job in Washington as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford, D-2nd District.

Among the eight to apply by Friday’s deadline is former state Sen. John Synowiecki, who held the seat before Nordquist. Omaha school board member Anthony Vargas also applied. The remaining six are Vince Emmanuel, Nicole Fox, Darren Garrean, Kyle Reppert, Bill Steckis and Zachary Wyatt-Gomez.

The district is situated in southeastern Omaha.

Friends, Family Help Nebraska 13-Year-Old Pull Off Backyard Musical

musicLINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Family, friends and other young children helped a 13-year-old Lincoln boy with a passion for musical theater pull off a production of “Shrek: The Musical” this weekend on a backyard stage.

Last summer, around 70 people attended a play that Dylan Lawrence and several friends put together at his home. Friends of Dylan’s parents attended the show and decided to offer up their backyard to Dylan as a place for him to direct larger productions. That space in Lincoln is now called The Backyard Theatre.

Dylan said he spent around 10 months working on his latest show. Although he had help with building the sets for the musical, the creativity and all major decisions were his.


Omaha Tribe Member Gets Prison on Sexual Abuse Charge

omaha-tribe-of-nebraskaOMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska has been sentenced to more than three years in prison on a sexual abuse charge involving a 9-year-old girl.

U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg in Nebraska says 23-year-old Lawrence Merrick, Jr., of Winnebago, was sentenced Friday to 37 months in prison on a charge of abusive sexual contact with a child. He was ordered to serve five years of supervised release and to register as a sex offender.

Merrick is accused of entering a residence at the Winnebago Reservation in April 2014 and rubbing the buttocks of a 9-year-old girl who was sleeping. The girl woke up and told her mother while Merrick fled the home.


Oklahoma Court: Ten Commandments Monument at Capitol Must Go

gavel-and-scaleOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court has reaffirmed in a 7-2 decision that a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds must be removed.

The state’s highest court on Monday denied a rehearing that had been requested by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Chief Justice John Reif wrote in the court’s concurring opinion that justices carefully considered the Pruitt’s arguments on behalf of the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission and found nothing to merit a rehearing in the case.

The court had found previously that the monument is a religious symbol and must be removed because it violates the state’s constitutional ban on using public property to benefit a religion.

The decision prompted an outcry from some conservative legislators who vowed to impeach the justices or amend the constitution.