Second life sentence for area man

GRAND ISLAND — A 58-year-old Glenvil man already serving a life sentence for fatally shooting his ex-wife has been given a second life sentence for killing the attorney who represented him in his divorce.

Michael L. Petersen was sentenced Tuesday in Hall County District Court.

Petersen pleaded no contest July 14 in Hall County District Court to a first-degree murder charge. First-degree murder is a Class 1A felony punishable by life in prison if convicted.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty and dropped a charge of using a firearm to commit a felony, a Class 1C felony punishable by three to 50 years in prison.

Petersen shot his ex-wife Nancy Petersen, 58, at her home in rural Buffalo County on Nov. 13, 2013, and then drove to Grand Island to shoot 52-year-old Todd Elsbernd of Grand Island.
Petersen was arrested Nov. 14, 2013, on J Street one mile east of Hastings. Police say he was armed but offered no resistance. He is being held without bond at the Hall County Department of Corrections.

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 Nancy in the back.

Later that day, Petersen reportedly shot Elsbernd, who 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 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.

On April 21, Petersen pleaded no contest to first-degree murder in Buffalo County for Nancy’s death. He was sentenced May 28 to life in prison.

To read more, see Wednesday's Hastings Tribune or the Tribune e-edition.>>

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