KEARNEY— A 58-year-old Glenvil man accused of fatally shooting his ex-wife and his former divorce attorney has been sentenced to life in prison.
Michael L. Petersen was sentenced Wednesday in Buffalo County District Court. He pleaded no contest April 21 to a first-degree murder charge, a Class 1A felony punishable by life in prison, in connection to his ex-wife’s death.
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 Nancy 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 had driven to Grand Island and reportedly 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. That murder charge has been filed as a Class 1 felony, making the crime punishable by execution if convicted.
Petersen pleaded not guilty in the Hall County case and that case is pending.
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.