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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 10, 1998)
By Jessica Fargen
Two-and-a-half years ago, Maryanne Kratzsch
gently covered her children’s heads with pillows to
muffle the sound, then shot her live-in boyfriend in
the head after more than eight years of abuse.
She wrapped his wound in a drop cloth and
buried his body under their doghouse in Omaha
Because of that, she has been in jail for the past
year with no chance of parole.
But the Nebraska Board of Pardons decided
Wednesday that when District Court Judge
Lawrence Corrigan sentenced Kratzsch a year ago,
he did it with the intention that she would be eligi
ble for parole after one year.
Kratzsch, 33, is serving an eight-year sentence
at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in
York for manslaughter and use of a weapon to
commit a felony. In July 1996, Kratzsch killed her
boyfriend, Gerald Heck, as he sat on their couch.
Corrigan sentenced her to consecutive sen
tences of one to five years for manslaughter, and
one to three years for die weapon charge, translat
ing it to a sentence of two to eight years. _
Corrigan wrote in a letter that he thought
Kratzsch would be eligible for parole this February
after serving half of her minimum sentence.
But under state law, she received a flat sentence
of eight years with no chance for parole, Attorney
General Don Stenberg said.
Although Stenberg and Secretary of State
Scott Moore said they thought eligibility for parole
after one year was a light sentence for murder, their
job was not to rehash the grisly details of the
Kratzsch case, Moore said.Instead, he said, then
job was to correct Corrigan’s mistake, which he
acknowledged in a letter to the board.
“I’m still trying to understand why such a light
sentence was handed out,” Moore said “The fact is
that’s what die judge (intended).
Kratzsch’s attorney, James Martin Davis, said
the letter was all the board needed to readjust die
sentence of Kratzsch, now eligible for parole.
“We are not asking you to release her, just com
mute (the sentence) back to what she thought she
was going to get,” Davis said. “Are you going to
say she’s going to suffer because a judge made a
The board, composed of Gov. Ben Nelson,
Stenberg and Moore, decided to commute
Kratzsch’s sentence after two hours of testimony
from Kratzsch’s family, the attorney general’s
office and an Omaha police detective.
Kratzsch’s sister, Patty, sat with a clenched
hand full of tissues during most of the hearing. Paul
Kratzsch, her father, sat near his daughter at the
hearin^and got up with the help of a cane to speak.
Both reminded the board that Kratzsch had
responsibilities outside of prison - namely three
little girls whose mother is in prison because she
killed their father, he said.
“We desperately need her to bring them up
properly and guide them,” Paul Kratzsch said. “I
Kratzsch had previously said that fear for her
life, after threats by Heck, led her to kill him. She
said fear of losing her children drove her to hide
Kratzsch had little to say at the hearing.
“In essence I am just asking for that chance that
I was told I wouldhave,” she said “I was a respon
sible, proud citizen, prior to (the murder).
“I would like a chance to return to that once
First lady leaves mark
Friends of Diane Nelson laud her abilities, accomplishments
By Todd Anderson
Senior staff writer
A leaky roof, worn carpet and
broken furniture. Many know the
troubles of keeping up an old house.
But for first lady Diane Nelson,
leaving the 40-year-old Governor’s
Mansion in disrepair was not the
way to ensure it’s service to future
* *****vv»^*4 tvuv * uvxvu
of the governor’s resi
dence at 15th and H
streets is the most visi
ble part of the legacy the
first lady will leave
behind, her work in pro
and a sense of commu
nity are her most lasting
Nebraska, friends and
project volunteers said.
Rod Bates, who
worked with Nelson in a
campaign to celebrate
the state’s 125th birthday
in 1992, said she had a
way of inspiring people
to help out and a drive to
achieve her goals.
makes up her mind that
something’s going to be
done, it’s going to get
done whether you want
to help or not,” he said.
Whether it was
of her eij
torming and leading committees,
renovating the governor’s home or
working on community health and
education, Diane Nelson has been
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The-first lady said refurbishing
the mansion was the first goal she
identified in 1991, but the project
was pushed back to 1997 because of
her busy schedule.
“There always was just another
project coming along,” she said.
After planning a birthday party
for the state in 1992, Nelson in 1994
became chairwoman of Good
Beginnings, a state-funded organi
DY Diane Nelson presents the
lovated governor’s mansion in
i project that she led starting in
b endeavor was just one highlight
iht years of work as first lady.
zation that oversees health care and
education for children.
In addition, she helped develop
the community service commission
iu cucuurage l-Ncurasitans 10
become involved in volunteer pro
In 1997, Nelson and former first
man Bill Orr kicked off the mansion
renovation project, which Nelson
called “a smashing success.”
She and Orr raised money to
fund the renovation and set up a
trust fund for proper upkeep and
Orr said Diane Nelson’s leader
ship was integral to the completion
of that and other projects.
“She is a driving force in any
kind of project she is involved
with,” he said. “When she sets her
mind on a goal, it will be
Marilyn Hansen, a friend of
ricisun anu unair woman oi me
mansion renovation project, said
Nelson’s strength is her ability to
put'together the pieces of a large
picture to generate a desired out
“She reads people very well,
and she encourages people to use
their talents to the best of their
ability,” Hansen said.
Bates also said Nelson knows
how to accomplish goals by fol
lowing through with her commit
ments, seeking involvement and
acknowledging everyone who
plays a part.
He said Nelson remains calm
and patient even when a situation
is awkward or sticky.
“I just think she is a very gra
cious first lady, and she has a lot of
class,” Bates said.
“She’s able to set everything
aside and say ‘Let’s get busy.’”
Students see benefits of Habitat
■ Volunteers enjoy
working to build home,
which is scheduled to be
finished in April.
By Kendall Swenson
Student volunteers are beginning
to see the positive results of a grow
ing campus organization.
The University of Nebraska
Lincoln chapter of Habitat for
Humanity has started building its
first house on the northwest comer
, of 29th and Potter streets.
“I really enjoy it,” said Jason
Dubs, president of the UNL chapter
( of Habitat for Humanity. “It gives me
a good feeling by helping out.”
Student workers have been work
ing Tuesdays and Saturdays with pro
fessional volunteers to complete the
house. So far, volunteers have
worked on what will be the house’s
- Although the house is scheduled
I r ' ■ : ■ ■
to be finished by April 1999, the date
is somewhat tentative, Dubs said.
A mild winter could help the
chapter complete the house on time,
“It all depends on the weather,”
Dubs said. “We would really like to
have it done before the school year is
done because people won’t be around
to help out in the summer.”
Members of UNL Habitat For
Humanity see the project as a large
reminder of the chapter’s progress.
Over the past few years, the chapter
has seen a large increase in member
ship and involvement.
“We didn’t do much a couple of
years ago,” said Chris Stone, a third
year member of the chapter. “Our
chapter is really strong now.”
Although the project has been
getting several volunteers weekly, it
is still looking for both labor and
money, Dubs said.
The chapter is hoping student
groups will volunteer to “Adopt-A
Job” and provide labor and funding
for a small part of the house.
For example, student groups can
pay for the paint for the inside of the
house and provide volunteers for that
“People will probably get into the
project a little more next semester,”
Dubs said. “We are still looking for
student groups that are looking for
fund-raisers to help support the pro
The UNL chapter is working in
partnership with the Lincoln
Lancaster County chapter of Habitat
for Humanity to build the $40,000
Habitat helps coordinate purchasing
property for the house and locating
skilled labor for jobs such as electric
work and plumbing, Dubs said.
“They help us out a lot,” Dubs
said. “The Lincoln-Lancaster chap
ter heljps find professionals to donate
Although the house will require a
certain amount of skilled labor, con
struction experience is not required
“Some people don’t even know
how to pound a nail,” Stone said.
“Experience is a great asset, but all
people are welcome.”
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Enter at 8th & S Streets, 1 block west
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Pulliam Journalism Fellowships
Graduating college seniors are invited to apply for the 26th annual
Pulliam Journalism Fellowships. We will grant 10-week summer
internships to 20 journalism or liberal aits majors in the August 1998
June 1999 graduating classy.
^ \ -. -
Previous internship or part-time experience at a newspaper is desired.
Winner? Will receive a $5,250 stipend and will work at either The
Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News or The Arizona v :
Republic. "V .
Early-admissions application postmark deadline is Nov. 15,1998. By
Dec. 15,1998, up to five early-admissions winners will be notified.
All other entries must be postmarked by March 1,1999.
To request an application packet, write: Russell B. Pulliam
The Indianapolis News
P.O.Box 145 Mm
Indianapolis, IN 46206-0145
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