GRAND ISLAND—A 58-year-old rural Glenvil man accused of fatally shooting his ex-wife and a divorce attorney has taken a plea deal for his ex-wife’s death.
Michael L. Petersen pleaded no contest Mondahy to a first-degree murder charge from Buffalo County in Hall County District Court in Grand Island. First-degree murder is a Class 1A felony punishable by life in prison if convicted.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of using a firearm to commit a felony, a Class 1C felony punishable by three to 50 years in prison.
Police believe Petersen shot his ex-wife Nancy Petersen, 58, at her home in rural Buffalo County on Nov. 13, 2013.
After his arrest, Petersen reportedly told authorities that he had gone from his residence in rural Glenvil to his ex-wife’s rural home southwest of Kearney about 10 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2013. He hid his pickup near the residence and walked closer, taking position near a tree. Petersen waited about three hours before using a rifle to shoot her in the back.
Later that day, Petersen allegedly shot 52-year-old Todd Elsbernd of Grand Island. Elsbernd represented Petersen in his 2002 divorce case. In 2009, Petersen sued Elsbernd for $57,300, alleging malpractice in the divorce case. A judge dismissed the case because the statute of limitations had expired on the claim.
Petersen reportedly had driven to Grand Island and parked in a public parking lot near Elsbernd’s office. When Elsbernd left the office about 6:30 p.m., Petersen allegedly shot him in the torso with a rifle. Elsbernd was taken to St. Francis Medical Center, where he died.
In Hall County, Petersen faces a charge of first-degree murder for Elsbernd’s death. The murder charge has been filed as a Class 1 felony, making the crime punishable by execution if convicted.
That case was also heard Monday, but it was continued by the defense until May 12.
Petersen was arrested Nov. 14, 2013, on J Street one mile east of Hastings. He is being held without bond at the Hall County Department of Corrections.