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His attorney advised him against it, but Aubrey Trail was adamant that he wanted to testify in his own defense on Tuesday — his first court appearance since slashing his neck two weeks ago.
"I understand it is your wish to waive your right to remain silent?" Judge Vicky Johnson asked him. To which Trail responded, "It is, your honor."
His attorney, Joe Murray, said his client wished to testify, "despite our wish to the contrary," and he called Trail to the stand.
Trail, 52, and Bailey Boswell, 25, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sydney Loofe.
Sitting in a black wheelchair, Trail sat in handcuffs in front of the defense table with two long, red wounds visible on the right side of his neck. Judge Johnson addressed his June 24 “outburst” before the day’s proceedings began.
“You will be restained for the balance of this trial,” she explained. “If you are disruptive again, you will be removed.”
Tuesday started with the prosecution wrapping up its case with more testimony from the state’s witness, FBI agent Mike Maseth. He said several jail letters had been written back and forth between Trail and Boswell while both were incarcerated in the Saline County Jail — some of which were found in the jail library, under the rec room door and in Boswell’s cell. The first one was found in March 2018.
Most of the letters were written by Trail to Boswell, relaying what he told the police and what her story should be when it came to details of Loofe’s death. He instructed her to destroy the letters after she read them.
“Baby, we’ve got to make you look like the victim in this,” he wrote. “We have to make it look like I brainwashed you. We have to make people hate me and feel sorry for you.”
Trail wrote some of the letters in code using a scrambled alphabet and numbers on the first line that corresponded with the letter below it. The letter explaining the code which called Boswell “Bro” was discovered in the jail, which made it possible for Maseth and the FBI to decode the other letters found.
The letter from Boswell appear to be written after she found the decoder, “Hey Daddy. I’m sorry I didn’t catch your letter sooner. The bro threw me off. When you say video, you mean snuff video or porn video? The rest is understood.”
Maseth said Trail used information from each FBI interview to recreate new stories about how Sydney’s death occurred. Maseth said the defendant originally denied any involvement, but his story evolved as he was given more details of police evidence against him. “Sometimes there is information he can glean from me talking to him,” he said. “We talked about going to Clay County, so now this letter is Trail telling her what he told law enforcement.”
After Maseth’s testimony, a break was taken and the state rested. Murray argued that the state hadn’t met their burden of proof, making a motion to dismiss the case. The judge overruled and the jury was brought back into the courtroom.
The defense called its first witness, Terra Gehrig, a friend of Sydney’s. She testified about Sydney’s drug use and the fact that she had used online dating apps before. “For our generation, that’s something that’s normal,” Gehrig explained to Murray.
On the cross examination, Sandra Allen of the Attorney General’s Office asked what she knew about Sydney’s sexual activity. Gehrig said Sydney was “very timid and very shy.”
“She would have to know them for a long period of time,” the witness said.
Allen then presented text messages between Sydney and Gehrig on Nov. 15, 2017, the morning of Sydney’s date with Boswell.
“She said she’s down for anything, so I hope she doesn’t have a boyfriend,” Sydney texted about her date.
Two clerks from the Grand Weaver Hotel in Falls City testified next, claiming they had seen Sydney with Trail and Boswell as early as the spring of 2017.
Trail was the final witness in Saline County District Court that day — where he changed his story once again.
He told a new story of how he met Sydney back in March of 2017. All of his previous statements indicated he hadn’t met her Boswell brought her to their apartment on Nov. 15, 2017. Trail now claims she was crying at the register in Menards and he “saw an opportunity” to have Sydney make phone calls for his antique business. He said she later decided she didn’t want to be involved with their illegal antique business and “it didn’t end well.”
Trail claims Boswell later reconnected with Sydney on Tinder, but Sydney didn’t recognize her at first because her photo didn’t resemble her. He said she “freaked a little” when she realized it was Boswell picking her up on Nov. 14, but then she “calmed down.”
After Boswell picked up Sydney for their second date on Nov. 15, Trail said Sydney wanted to talk to him so they drove to Wilber.
“I wanted to talk to her after the way it ended last time,” he said. “Sydney’s problem was she was too sweet. She didn’t really fit in with us, but Bailey really liked her.”
Trail said Sydney shut off her phone about an hour after she arrived at their Wilber apartment.
Then he changed his story another time. Trail said Sydney didn’t die as a result of a sexual fantasy gone wrong with two other girls present.
He said his previous story was “total bullsh--,” a “total fabrication.” Trail said it was just the three of them and he choked Sydney with a gray extension cord, their own sexual fantasy gone wrong. He claims it occurred around 12-1 a.m. Trail has been convicted of 4-5 felonies and said he was worried that no one would believe his story with that kind of a criminal background. He claimed he tried to fit her body in a trunk and when that didn’t work, he dismembered her on the kitchen floor with a saw similar to a hacksaw around 4-5 a.m. Trail said he sent Boswell out for more bleach and trash bags and her remains were bagged and carried out to the car in a plastic tote that afternoon.
He said he had no idea where they were going to dump her remains. Again, Trail changed his story in which he previously stated the body was taken to a sacred place near a cemetery. He said the remains were eventually placed in “high grass” along some country road. Trail claims he later threw out any saws, knives or “anything that looked suspicious” in a wooded field between Plattesmouth and Nebraska City.
His attorney asked him how people are supposed to know if he’s telling the truth this time and Trail replied, “You have to decipher what you believe.”
On the cross, Doug Warner of the Attorney General’s Office said that every time new information comes to light, Trail feels the need to come up with another explanation.
“Isn’t true, Mr. Trail, that your performance today is your biggest con?” Warner asked. “That you are just going to throw sh-- at the wall and see if it sticks?”
“I don’t care what you believe,” Trail responded.
At the adjournment, the judge told the jury that evidence will finish up on Wednesday, followed by closing arguments. She will then instruct the jury on the law before they begin deliberations. The judge asked them to pack a suitcase, “enough for two nights.”