A man who was given the death penalty for the brutal murder and dismemberment of a Nebraska woman he met on the dating app Tinder has had his initial appeal to have his trial declared a mistrial thrown out.
On Thursday, the Nebraska Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Aubrey Trail, 56, who was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2017 death of 24-year-old Sydney Loofe and sentenced to death. Bailey Boswell, Trail’s girlfriend at the time of Loofe’s death, was also convicted as an active participant in Loofe’s death and sentenced to life in prison in November of last year.
Trail claimed that the trial court had violated his constitutional rights by dismissing potential jurors who said they would not be able to perform their duties under Nebraska law because they were against the death penalty, but the Supreme Court ruled against him on all of his appeal claims.
After shouting, “Bailey is innocent, and I curse you all!” and slashing his own throat with a razor blade he had obtained in jail and sneaked into the courtroom on the third day of his trial, Trail claimed that the judge should have declared a mistrial and, later, granted his request for a new trial.
The district court ruled against Trail’s requests for a mistrial and a new trial, calling his act of self-harm “a calculating gesture.” The highest court in the state said Thursday that it would not review the lower court’s ruling. According to the Supreme Court, allowing mistrials in such cases “would provide a criminal defendant with a convenient device for provoking a mistrial whenever he chose to do so.” The court based its decision on previous appeals court cases that had also ruled against defendants who had disrupted their own court hearings.
Justice John Freudenberg wrote for the court, “We will not permit Trail to benefit from his own bad behavior during trial,” in a unanimous decision.
After meeting on the dating app Tinder, Boswell is accused of conspiring with Trail to kidnap and murder Loofe. Two days after Loofe’s mother reported her missing, on November 16, 2017, Boswell and Loofe went on a date. Loofe’s dismembered body was discovered in a field near Edgar, roughly 90 miles southwest of Lincoln, stuffed into trash bags.
Prosecutors claim that after the fact, Trail told investigators that he had strangled Loofe with an extension cord. After Loofe’s death, he and Boswell used tools they had purchased from a hardware store the day before to dismember her body and dispose of her remains.
According to court documents, Trail and Boswell were seen purchasing the tools police believe were used to dismember Loofe while she was still alive.
There was no immediate response to requests for comment on the ruling made on Thursday from either a lawyer for Trail or the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.
According to KMTV, a CBS affiliate in the area, the two initially posted a Facebook video in which they claimed to be innocent shortly after Loofe went missing in November. In the video, Boswell admits that she and Loofe did drugs at her place before she dropped him off at a friend’s. They had planned on going to a casino that weekend, but Boswell said she hadn’t heard from Loofe since.
A few hours after being posted to the “Finding Sydney Loofe” Facebook page, the video was taken down.