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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 2, 1994)
COVERING THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA SINCE 1901
VOL. 94 NO. 11
NU Volleyball team opens season In Indiana PagelO
Arts & Entertainment
I Blazestock to rock dowmtown Lincoln, Page 12
PAGE 2: Mystery envelope to be opened in OJ. case
Harold Lamont Otey waves from a window of the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Otey was pronounced dead at 12:33 a.m. this
morning after receiving four 2,400-volt surges of electricity.
“Vie electric chair isn t a wry
dignified way to die, hut
Harold Lamont Oley died
with dignity. ”
■ Leslie Boellstorlf,
Omaha World-Herald reporter
Otey’s final moments
By Matthew Waite
Harold Lamont Otcy was put to death
early Friday morning, the first execu
tion in the state of Nebraska since 1958.
The execution started at 12:23 a.m.
and ended at 12:25 a.m. Otey was pro
nounced dead at 12:33 a.m.
Otcy was sentenced to death in the
electric chair for the 1977 rape and
murder of Jane McManus of Omaha.
The last execution in Nebraska was
Charles Starkweather’s 35 years ago.
State witnesses were questioned af
ter the execution by more than 40 mem
bers of the media.
The State’s witnesses were Ed
Howard of the Associated Press, Leslie
Bocllstorff of the Omaha World-Her
ald, Mike Mcknight of WOWT-TV in
Omaha, Paul Wicc of KGFW of
Kearney, Bill Kreifcl of the Lincoln
Journal and John Shaw, the associate
warden of administrative services.
Witnesses who Otcy selected were
friends Joseph Munshaw and Jessica
French, Attorney Paula Hutchinson and
clergyman Alim Obdullah. The media
■About 2,000 people gathered
at the Nebraska State Peniten
tiary Thursday night supporting
and protesting the execution of
Harold Lamont Otey.
See photos, stories on pages
was not allowed to question those wit
BoellstorlT, the first to speak, was
visibly shaken by what she had wit
nessed. Her hands shook as she spoke to
“Theelcctric chair isn’t a very digni
fied way todic, but Harold Lamont Otey
died with dignity,” she said, her voice
trembling as she told her story. “He
smiled and said ‘I love you’ to the
witnesses, to his witnesses who where
McKnight said Otey did not have
any last words but looked every witness
See EXECUTION on 7
Victim’s family feels
'calmer’ after execution
By Kara G. Morrison
OMAHA — Thirteen members of
the McManus family calmly gathered
outside Joan McManus’ Omaha apart
ment Friday morning to say 17 years of
pain had ended.
“It’sovcrnow,” Joan McManus said.
Joan McManus led family members
onto the porch of her Omaha apartment
minutes after hearing her daughter’s
killer had been executed.
Harold LamontOtcy was electrocut
ed at the Nebraska State Penitentiary at
12:23 a.m. Friday. Otcy was convicted
in 1977 of raping and murdering 26
year-old Jane McManus.
“I can maybe think of Jane now in a
little different way — a little more
peaceful way,” Joan McManus told re
porters. “I feel a little calmer now that l
know it has reached finality.”
Joan McManussaid she felt forOtey’s
family but thought the execution was a
“It’s an unfortunate thing to have to
know there was another death tonight
because of this,” she said."... I’m sorry
that the other family had to experience
that pain tonight, but so be it. It had to
be that way.”
The McManuses thanked Attorney
General Don Stcnbcrg and Gov. Ben
Nelson for their support, and Joan
McManus thanked ‘‘everyone who
helped as get the news across that Jane
will not be forgotten.”
Jane's sister, Laura McManus, said
it was too early for family members to
explain their feelings, now that the
execution finally had been carried out,
but said the family was glad it was over.
“I don’t think any of us have an
emotion right now. I think its some
thing we need to sleep on,” Laura
McManas said. “For us it's over.
“I’ve suflercdcspcciallyovcrthc last
three years of fighting this. ... Harold
Otey killed our sister.”
For Joan McManas, Otey's execu
tion meant an end to legal proceedings
and public appearances for her and her
“Tomorrow we’re going to go back
to being private people again, because it
has been very difficult for us to be in
front of the camera.”
7 can maybe think of Jane
now in a little diffenetit way
— a little more peaceful
■ Joan McManus,
mother of murder
victim Jane McManus
"My life has beeti enriched hy
his friendship. ”
■ Hanno Klassen,
retired Minnesota professor
and Otey follower
Judge Memtt denies Biorklund s request tor new trial
By Jeffrey Robb _
Roger Bjorklund will not get a new trial, a
judge ruled Thursday.
District Judge Paul Merritt, in denying
Bjorklund's motion, wrote in a six-page decision
that prayers given by Judge Donald Endacott
before tnc jury last October were harmless and
failed to influence the verdict. Endacott had
assigned Merritt to review the effect of a prayer,
if any, on jurors.
Endacott will sentence Bjorklund on Sept. 20.
Bjorklund was originally scheduled to be sen
tcnccd in May 1994, but the sentencing was
delayed pending the ruling.
Bjorklund was convicted last November of the
rape and murder of Candice Harms, a University
of Ncbraska-Lincoln freshman. The prosecution
has said it will seek the death penally against him.
Merritt wrote in his decision that after jury
selection in Sidney, Endacott met with jurors and
asked them to join hands and bow their heads. He
then said. “God be with us,” Merritt wrote.
Attorneys for Bjorklund heard about Endacott's
prayer during a meeting with the judge in Febru
ary and later filed an appeal, saying their defen
dant's right to a fair trial had been a Hoc ted.
“The prayers were very short in nature and
were not interpreted by the jurors as being com
ments by Judge Endacott on the evidence to be
presented in the ease or on how the ease should be
decided,” Merritt wrote.
“From the time the 12 jurors were selected and
sworn up to the time the case was submitted to the
jurors... Judge Endacott continued to remind the
jurors of their duty to keep open minds and base
their verdict only on the evidence presented.”
In April, Endacott denied Bjorkiund’s appeal,
but prosecutors decided to take the issue further to
avoid a future appeal from Bjorklund.
said Merritt had taken enough steps to determine
that the contact didn’t pollute the jury. All the
jurors told Merritt the prayer didn’t affect them,
“I’m pleased (Judge Merritt) decided the way
he did,” Lacey said. “It allows the case to be
Bjorklund’s attorney, Scott Helvie, was un
available for comment Thursday, but he was
reported as saying any appeals would have to wait
until after sentencing.
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