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Jury deliberations began Wednesday morning in the Darryl Lierman trial.
Judge Mark Johnson gave the jury instruction and at 9:12 a.m. submitted to the jury for deliberations. Since the two alternates are no longer needed, they were then dismissed from duty.
The remaining 12 jurors then exited the courtroom and entered the jury room to deliberate.
Lierman, 51, is accused of three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, two counts of third-degree sexual assault of a child, and three counts of child abuse. He has pleaded not guilty to all eight charges.
Lierman’s court-appointed attorneys are Doug Stratton and Jason Doele, and the state is represented by Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler, Assistant Antelope County Attorney Joe Smith and Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Sandra Allen.
Court began at 8:38 a.m. with Judge Johnson thanking various people for their assistance with the case from the Antelope County Sheriff's Department and Neligh Police Department to the bailiffs and court employees.
At 8:43 a.m., the jurors were brought into the courtroom, and Johnson then thanked the jurors for their duty, especially being sequestered and away from their family since Thursday.
"It's rare to be sequestered," Johnson said, before adding, "Your family and community owe you a great debt and should be proud."
Johnson then presented 16 instructions to the jury, which took nearly 30 minutes to read. Among the instructions included the charges and dates they reflect. The final instruction was that "the verdict must be unanimous."
After the case was turned over to the jury, Johnson released the two alternates and thanked them as well. However, he specifically thanked them for being sequestered and now not needed.
"It's particularly difficult as alternate jurors to not participate after hearing all of this," Johnson said, before adding that they are "owed a debt of gratitude for your service."
On Tuesday, closing statements lasted about three hours as the prosecution and defense attorneys made their final arguments in the case.
Assistant Antelope County Attorney Joe Smith told jurors that (the alleged victim) told them “personal things that she didn’t have to because she had faith in the system, faith in a jury, faith in a judge, faith in a prosecutor and faith in the law.”
Smith said it was hard for her to disclose, in fact, she didn’t tell anyone for a long time “because she knew what would happen.”
“Not having a way out, she took some pills,” he said. “That started the whole process, which eventually would give (the alleged victim) a chance at justice.”
Smith explained that evidence from the previous case against Lierman was allowed because “evidence that he committed other acts is relevant,” and the previous jury “didn’t get all of the evidence” before making their decision.
“You have heard the evidence, you’ve heard these little girls, it should be your honor and privilege to return a guilty verdict,” he said.
In his closing statement, defense attorney Doug Stratton argued that the two cases are “separate and distinct.”
“Make no mistake, the prosecution does not get a second chance to try Darryl Lierman in the (first accuser’s) case,” Stratton said. “That’s over and done.”
He said there was a lack of evidence against his client and said that the “burden of proof never shifts.”
“That burden is on the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Stratton said.
He went on to say that (the alleged victim’s) “stories weren’t believable.”
“No one is corroborating (the alleged victim’s) evidence, nor do they want to, because (the alleged victim) is lying,” Stratton said.
Smith gave a rebuttal stating that the past evidence should be considered, and that the defense attorney was trying to confuse the issue by only reading part of the jury instructions.
“That was all smoke and mirrors,” he said. “You will have instructions from the judge. I’ll make no attempt to fool anybody. I’ll read it word for word.”
Smith said “what is required is proof, evidence,” and he told the jury they have that, “a little girl’s testimony is evidence.”
“You can decide who to believe, (the alleged victim), who showed courage and respect for herself by coming here, or you can believe the defendant and his attorney who said shouldn’t consider that he sexually assaulted another girl,” he said.