GRAND ISLAND — Murder cases against a 58-year-old Glenvil man accused of shooting his ex-wife and his divorce attorney last November have been sent to the district court without a preliminary hearing.
Hall County Judge Philip Martin Jr. bound over two cases against Michael L. Petersen Tuesday afternoon in Hall County Court. Petersen faces murder charges in Buffalo and Hall counties.
In Buffalo County, Petersen is charged with first-degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony in the shooting death of Nancy Petersen, 58, at her home in rural Buffalo County.
First-degree murder is a Class 1A felony punishable by life in prison if convicted. Use of a firearm to commit a felony is a Class 1C felony punishable by 3-50 years in prison.
In Hall County, Petersen faces charges of first-degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony in the shooting death of Attorney Todd Elsbernd, 52, of Grand Island outside his office. The Hall County Attorney filed the murder as a Class 1 felony, increasing the possible penalty to execution.
Because both Buffalo and Hall counties are in the Ninth Judicial District, Martin was able to hear both cases in Grand Island this afternoon.
In both cases, Petersen waived his right to a preliminary hearing, allowing each case to be forwarded to each respective district court. Prosecutors agreed to provide investigative reports in both cases, and Martin ordered that statutory discovery information be provided.
Petersen's next hearing will be his district court arraignment on Feb. 18 at 9 a.m. in Hall County District Court.
Petersen is being held without bond at the Hall County Department of Corrections.
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 truck near the residence and walked closer, taking position near a tree. Petersen waited about three hours before allegedly using a rifle to shoot Nancy in the back.
Petersen then drove 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.
Witnesses told police the shooter had been parked for a long time before the shooting.
The Petersens filed for divorce in 2002 and it was finalized in 2004. Elsbernd was Michael's attorney in the 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 was arrested Nov. 14, 2013, on J Street one mile east of Hastings. Police say he was armed but offered no resistance.