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Suspect fears judge is biasedTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Nelson Herman after he was arrested in June.

Nelson Herman, 47, of North Platte, was scheduled for a jury trial Tuesday but defense attorney Blaine Gillette told the court Herman expressed concern about his case being tried in front of District Judge Donald Rowlands.

Herman has been jailed since June 2, after a domestic dispute in Maxwell turned violent. Investigators said that Herman apparently choked his girlfriend until she nearly passed out, but the woman got a hold of a knife and stabbed at Herman's face and leg to stop the attack.

Herman has a history of domestic violence and other crimes. He has spent most of the last 27 years behind bars. Most recently, he was sentenced in January 2009 to the state pen for domestic assault, where he remained for two and half years. That was his fifth trip to the penitentiary.

This time, Gillette said he advised his client to forego a jury trial, because Herman would have to take the stand to give his side of the story and that would open him up to questions from prosecutors about his background, which could be detrimental to his case.

Herman agreed and waived his right to trial by jury, which means a judge will conduct a “bench trial.”

Herman told Gillette that when he was in Rowland’s court in the past Rowlands had made a statement that “if I ever see you again you will go away” so Herman felt that he could not get a fair trial.

Gillette asked the court for more time so he could get transcripts of Herman’s previous hearings to see if they indicate that Rowlands made the alleged statement.

Rowlands said he remembered Herman from the past but did not remember making the statement. Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling had no objection to rescheduling for a later date and the hearing was reset for March.

Herman remains in jail on $250,000 bond.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 1/16/2013
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