Criminal Justice

Ex-client takes plea in murder case over divorce attorney's slaying

A former client of a Nebraska divorce lawyer pleaded no contest Monday to a first-degree murder charge.

Under a plea agreement with Michael Petersen, the state agreed not to seek the death penalty in the 2013 slaying of attorney Todd Elsberndt outside his law office, the Grand Island Independent reports.

Petersen, 58, was sentenced in May to a life term without parole in the murder of his ex-wife, Nancy Petersen, 58, in Buffalo County. That slaying took place shortly before Petersen drove to Elsberndt’s law office in Hall County to kill him on Nov. 13, 2013, authorities say, and Nancy Petersen’s body was discovered that same day. Both were shot with a high-velocity rifle, and the defendant reportedly admitted to authorities at the time of the crime that he had shot the lawyer.

The 2005 divorce of the Petersens was followed by a malpractice suit by Michael Petersen against Elsberndt and a dispute about attorney fees.

See also: “Ex-client faces first-degree murder charge in slaying of divorce lawyer”

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