A 22-year-old Hastings man accused of murder may be providing an alibi during his trial later this year.
Defense attorneys for Daniel B. Harden filed a notice of intent to offer alibi evidence on Wednesday, and that notice was discussed Friday during a pre-trial hearing in Kearney County District Court.
Although Harden’s charges are based in Adams County, Friday’s hearing was held in Minden for the convenience of the judge, who had other cases in Kearney County.
Harden, who faces charges of first-degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony, is accused of trying to rob 19-year-old Jose “Joey” Hansen and killing him in the process in 2017.
In the notice, defense attorneys intend to prove Harden was not present with Hansen at the time of his death. At that time, the defense claims Harden was at a house where he resided, based on interviews with witnesses, including Errich Holston, Dustie Martin, Michael Martin and Laikyn Willison.
A number of other pre-trial motions were discussed at Friday’s hearing, including a motion to limit certain evidence at trial.
In a motion in limine filed Jan. 30, the defense asked to not allow hearsay evidence from Katherine Creigh and Serenity Crossfield, who reportedly overheard discussions about the shooting, arguing that hearsay evidence isn’t allowed and neither individual was present at the time Hansen was shot.
Investigators believe Crossfield overheard conversations about Hansen’s murder, first at Creigh’s residence about 3 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2017, and then hours later during discussions in Creigh’s vehicle while driving from Hastings to Lincoln.
The defense also asked to prevent information about any polygraph examination or Harden’s invocation of his rights from being introduced to a jury.
The motion seeks to prevent the assertion, argument or implication of any DNA, fingerprints, hair or biological evidence or other scientific evidence linking Harden to the shooting since the discovery provided by prosecutors have indicated no such evidence exists.
During Friday’s hearing, prosecuting attorney Corey O’Brien with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office said that any physical evidence offered would be used to corroborate other testimony as opposed to providing a direct link from Harden to the murder.
As for the hearsay testimony that could be offered by Crossfield and Creigh, O’Brien said it would be premature to restrict evidence without context.
Denise Frost, one of Harden’s attorneys, concurred that hearsay evidence objections will need to be handled at trial, but wanted the opportunity to provide a written argument to the judge before trial. She also provided police reports and transcripts of depositions conducted with Crossfield and Hastings Police Department Capt. Raelee Van Winkle.
“We feel you would be in a better position to decide on them at trial,” Frost said.
A second motion in limine was filed on July 16, asking to exclude statements Harden made after his arrest and to exclude a shell casing recovered from Creigh’s vehicle during the investigation because the model of the gun or ammunition used in the shooting is unknown.
District Judge Terri Harder gave attorneys for each side 10 days to submit written argument for the motions, and she took the matter under advisement. Another pre-trial hearing in the case was set for Sept. 11 at 2 p.m.
A motion for disclosure of intent to offer character evidence was filed on Jan. 3. O’Brien indicated the state didn’t intent to offer such evidence, but agreed to disclose any such intent by Aug. 15.
A motion requesting the use of supplemental juror questionaires to aid both parties in identifying possible conflicts for potential jurors was filed on July 8. Harder approved motion as long as the attorneys can agree on the additional questions to be asked of prospective jurors. If an agreement can’t be reached, a further hearing will be Sept. 11.
A motion regarding the admissibility of expert witnesses was filed on July 16. O’Brien said the state planned to present expert testimony regarding DNA, fingerprints, pathology and ballistics. The state is to confirm all evidence has been submitted to the defense by Aug. 15 and the defense will determine if a hearing on the matter is needed. If needed, it will be held on Sept. 11.
O’Brien also advised the state didn’t object to Harden appearing at trial in street clothes or without restraints.
Harden pleaded not guilty to the charges on Feb. 27, 2018.
Creigh, 22, of Lincoln and Deante Mullen, 20, of Lincoln also have been charged in the case.
Authorities say Harden and Mullen allegedly intended to rob Hansen and the attempted robbery led to Hansen’s death on Sept. 11, 2017, in 700 block of West G Street. Hansen was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back.
Mullen faces charges of first-degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. He pleaded not guilty March 5, 2018. A pre-trial hearing in his case has been set for Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.
Creigh, Mullen’s girlfriend at the time, also was charged with accessory to a felony for helping Harden and Mullen avoid arrest after the shooting. A preliminary hearing in Creigh’s case has been scheduled for Nov. 7 at 2 p.m.
First-degree murder is a Class 1 or Class 1A felony punishable by death or life in prison, respectively. Prosecutors haven’t indicated whether they will pursue the death penalty. Use of a firearm to commit a felony is a Class 1C felony punishable by five to 50 years in prison. Accessory to first-degree murder is a Class 2A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.