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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 26, 1994)
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Vol. 93 No. 90
Taped confessions open Bjorklund hearing
By Matthew Waite
Taped confessions of jury tam
pering and more details in the
death of Candice Harms were
admitted Tuesday during the first
round of suppression hearings for the
sentencing of Roger Bjorklund.
Bjorklund, convicted in Novem
ber of the first-degree murder of
Harms, appeared before Judge Donald
Endacott in Lancaster County Dis
Detective Sgt. Greg Sorensen of
the Lincoln Police Department testi
fied that Bjorklund requested a meet
ing with him after his conviction. He
said Bjorklund’s message sounded
Bjorklund asked Sorensen about
the investigation into the jury tamper
ing during his trial, Sorensen said. A
tape of the conversation was made.
From a transcript of the tapes,
Bjorklund said he wanted to help clear
Pastor Sherman McCormick’s name.
McCormick, from the Piedmont Park
Seventh Day Adventist Church, helped
Bjorklund deliver threatening letters
to jurors after visiting him in jail.
Five jurors, all women, received
threatening letters at their hotel dur
ing the trial’s third week. The letters
urged the jurors to find Bjorklund
McCormick wanted Bjorklund to
send a note to Lancaster County At
torney Gary Lacey claiming respon
sibility for the letters.
Bjorklund said he followed the
advice of a fellow inmate, who
Bjorklund said wrote the letters.
Bjorklund said he did not even know
what the letters contained, but knew
they were sent.
Sorensen said he asked Bjorklund
why the letters were sent, which could
have caused a mistrial, when
Bjorklund had said he wanted his trial
to be over.
“Well, ‘cause I guess I was stu
pid,” Bjorklund said in the transcripts.
“I took someone’s advice and I
shouldn’t of, and I felt bad about it...”
Also admitted into evidence were
tapes holding what Sorensen called a
more detailed account of the death of
Sorensen said Bjorklund asked if
tapes could be used in the sentencing
hearing. Sorensen said Bjorklund was
never given the idea the tapes would
not be used against him in court.
Bjorklund’s attorney, Chief Depu
ty Public Defender Scott Helvie, asked
Sorensen why he questioned
Bjorklund about the murder after he
had been found guilty. He also ques
See BJORKLUND on 3
Bending over backwards
John Ertl, a sophomore fine arts major, and Keaton Mercer, a senior theater major, practice their ballet
techniques during their Principles of Ballet class Tuesday afternoon in the Johnny Carson Theatre.
NU engineering debate called ‘turf war’
By Kara G. Morrison
The debate over establishing a separate
engineering college at UNO has started
a “turf war that is hurting the entire NU
system, one regent said Tuesday.
“It’s getting out of hand," Regent Robert
Allen of Hastings said.
Allen cited as an example a Dec. 9 engineer
ing consultant’s meeting at UNO, where one
professor was physically barred from the room
by University of Nebraska at Omaha faculty
members because he had
not signed a petition sup
porting the separate college.
Allen said the engineer
ing debate had culminated
into a competition between
campuses that was detri
mental to the NU system
Omaha Regent Rosemary
Skrupa disagreed that such
competition was hurting the University of Ne
“Perhaps I’ve been too long in a free enter
prise system, but I believe competition is stu
dent effective and cost effective," she said.
“There is nothing wrong with it.
“That’s the whole nature of the university, to
foster constructive dissent, and once a decision
has been made, let’s play ball. The opposite
would be a police state.”
Such competition, however, is not consis
tent with the one-university concept NU Board
of Regents Chairman Charles Wilson of Lin
coln has advocated throughout the debate.
“The essence of (the one-university con
cept) is that the University of Nebraska and all
the programs included in it should be directed
to meet the needs of the entire state," he said.
“I think the concept is relevant to the engi
neering debate,” Wilson said. “Engineering is
the most expensive undergraduate program.
It’s important to use our resources wisely in
order to have the best program in the state of
Nebraska, including Omaha."
When individual campuses react by pursu
ing their own agendas and competing with one
another, Wilson said, a unified approach to
meeting the state’s needs is jeopardized.
Allen said outspokenness by Omaha re
gents, business leaders and UNO administra
tion advocating a separate college also had
undermined the university’s decision-making
“There is a process by which they can seek
a change, but their going public with this is
really causing animosity, Allen said.
Allen said UNO Chancellor Del Weber had
never confronted the regents about any protv
terns with the UNO engineering program.
Allen said the “turf war” extended beyond
the engineering debate and charged Weber and
Omaha regents with taking del iberate measures
to forward their own causes and undermine the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s progress.
“Del didn’t start the turf war, but he has
made it much more intense for trying to be just
like a university that’s only 50 miles away,”
Allen said. “This turf war is more serious than
most people want to acknowledge.”
► Regent Robert Allen said debate was
getting out of hand, citing a UNO
conflict where one professor was
physically barred from a meeting.
► Regent Rosemary Skrupa said the
debate was part of the university's
nature to foster constructive dissent.
► Regents Chairman Charles Wilson
said this competition was not consistent
with the one-university concept.
Thursday, the Daly Nahraafcan will
examine the dupHcatlon two engineering
programs could Croats In the NU system.
Weber declined comment.
Regent Nancy O’Brien of Waterloo dis
missed Allen’s linkage of the issues to the
engineering debate anaanimosity between cam
“It doesn’t have anything to do with issues in
the past, it has to do with the needs of the state
and having those met in a very specific in
stance. It’s not related to those issues,”O’Brien
Skrupa also disagreed that the engineering
debate had caused a rift between campuses on
“I hate to see anyone even trying to suggest
there are other problems,’’ Skrupa said.
Wilson said he expected the engineering
consultant’s report to be available to the regents
within the next month or two.
From Daily Nebraskan
and Associated Press Reports
WASHINGTON—Nebraska Sen. Bob
Kerrey and Rep. Doug Bereuter both
gave President Cl inton high marks on
his first State of the Union address Tuesday
Crime and welfare reform were the strong
points of the Clinton agenda, the Nebraska
congressmen told the Daily Nebraskan.
Kerrey, a Democrat, said the president had
his priorities straight — crime, children, fam
ilies, education and job training.
However, Kerrey said, the Clinton health
care initiatives need changes.
“I disagree with some of the approaches the
president is taking on health care,” he said.
“With all due respect to the president, that bill
The most successful issues in Clinton’s first
year have been those receiving bipartisan sup
port, Kerrey said. Without that support, he said,
health care would not pass.
Bereuter, a Republican, said the problems
for Clinton’s agenda may not be the Republi
‘The problems that will come, will come
from the bleeding-heart wing of his own party,”
In the past, Bereuter said, the more liberal
Democrats stopped crime and welfare initia
Bereuter said Clinton put pressure on the
liberals in the Democratic Party with his agen
da, because many of his initiatives were mod
eled on Republican ideas.
Clinton s initiatives are steps in the right
direction, Bereuter said. He said he would get
bipartisan support on many issues, especially
welfare and crime.
“I’m going to help him with my vote ” he
In his speech, Clinton proclaimed progress
on his promises to break gridlock and revive the
nation's economy and challenged Congress to
move promptly on health care and welfare
UDr work has just begun, Clinton told a
joint session of Congress. “We must do both at
the same time.”
Upping pressure on Congress to pass the
health care reform plan he proposed, Clinton—
who has yet to veto a bill — threatened to veto
any measure that does not meet his standard of
“If the legislation you send me does not
guarantee every American private health insur
ance that can never be taken away, I will take
this pen, veto that legislation, and we’ll come
right back here and start over again."
Clinton took advantage of—and some of the
credit for — the improving economy to call for
Congress to “continue our journey of renewal” by
enacting the remainder of his domestic program.
“We replaced drift and deadlock with renewal
and reform," Clinton said.
Turning to crime, Clinton voiced strong sup
port for legislation that would put 100,000 more
police on the beat, send three-time felons to
prison for life and ban assault weapons.
“Violent crime and the fear it provokes are
crippling our society, limiting personal freedom
and fraying the ties that bind us,” Clinton said.
See ADDRESS on 3
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