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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 22, 1999)
Dunagan gets continuance
■ A judge’s ruling will allow the
UNL freshman to take finals
before he is sentenced on charges
of manslaughter and the use of a
weapon to commit a felony.
By Josh Funk
Senior staff writer
UNL freshman Matthew Dunagan will be
able to complete his final exams before he is
sentenced for the murder of his father thanks to
a continuance granted last week.
In December, Dunagan, 19, did not contest
charges of manslaughter and the use of a
weapon to commit a felony for the Sept. 30,
1997, shooting of his father, John Dunagan.
A Lancaster County District Court Judge
granted the defense’s motion for a continuance
Thursday, one day before Dunagan’s scheduled
John Stevens Berry, one of Dunagan’s
lawyers, said this was a complicated matter and
needed time for consideration, but he refused to
Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jodi
Nelson did not return several Daily Nebraskan
phone calls Friday.
This is the second time the sentencing hear
ing has been moved back.
The hearing was continued from Feb. 18 to
March 19 to allow the judge additional time to
review the pre-sentence investigation.
Dunagan could face one to 20 years in
prison for both the manslaughter and the
weapons charge, but the judge also has discre
tion to suspend the sentence.
After the plea agreement was entered,
Michael Hansen, Dunagan’s other lawyer, said
their goal was to keep Dunagan out of jail.
In January, County Attorney Gary Lacey
said the case called for compassion.
Lacey said a psychiatric evaluation detailed
a pattern of systematic abuse in Dunagan’s life
leading up to the Sept. 30,1997, shooting.
Early that morning Kay Dunagan called 911
and reported: “My husband is an alcoholic; he
was drunk, he was going to kill me, and my son
When police arrived at the southwest
Lincoln home, Matthew Dunagan admitted
shooting his father, John.
Documents filed in Lancaster County Court
detail the events of that night:
John and Kay Dunagan had been fighting,
which was reportedly common when John
Matthew Dunagan went upstairs to his room
and loaded a 12-gauge shotgun in case the argu
ment got physical.
About two hours after the argument ended,
John Dunagan became upset and threatened his
wife in Matthew’s presence.
So Dunagan went upstairs, got the shotgun,
returned and shot his father three times as he lay
on the couch.
Dunagan’s mother, Kay, bailed him out of
jail a few days later, and he finished his senior
year at Lincoln Pius X through tutoring.
After graduating with a 4.0 grade point
average, Dunagan came to the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln on a Regents Scholarship.
Dunagan has been a full-time student all
year, majoring in biochemistry.
Town tries to
THEDFORD (AP) - Four semitrailer
truckloads of hay were delivered Sunday to
ranchers near this western Nebraska town to
help them recover from last week’s devastat
ing prairie fire.
“Some ranchers lost all their hay, some
lost summer pasture, some lost winter pas
ture,” said Brent Plugge, University of
Nebraska agriculture extension educator
based in Thedford.
About 40 ranchers were hurt in one way
or another by the fire, which destroyed thou
sands of acres of rangeland, Plugge said.
The hay from Dodge and Cuming coun
ties arrived Sunday for rancfiers in tfie
burned area. A committee of ranchers was set
up to help make distribution decisions,
Thedford, a town of 250 people, was
evacuated when the state’s largest fire nearly
reached the community late Tuesday. The
fire scorched nearly 130 square miles in the
Sandhills before it was under control
The donated hay was being sent by the
Dodge County Feeders Association, the
Cuming County Feeders Association and the
Cuming County Ag Awareness Group.
Later in the week a group also will be
going out to the burned area to help repair
fences, organizers of the aid effort said. The
groups also were collecting cash donations to
purchase additional fencing materials for
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture
also set up a hotline for farmers and ranchers
who would like to donate feed, supplies or
pasture land. The number is (800) 422-6692.
Plugge said his extension office has
received more than 200 calls from people
offering hay, fencing materials and money.
Surveillance video helps
police catch bank robber
By Josh Funk
Senior staff writer
One week after a Union Bank robbery,
Lincoln police on Thursday arrested the man
identified in a surveillance video.
Police said the investigation was aided by
high-quality video tape from the bank and a
new professional-quality VCR that Union Bank
donated earlier this year.
Lincoln Police Chief Tom Casady said they
received numerous Crime Stoppers calls, and
two police officers identified the suspect after
seeing the videotape.
The 43-year-old man arrested for the March
11 robbery is no stranger to police.
He served three years in prison for a 1991
Lincoln bank robbery, and he was in prison for
a 1984 burglary.
Also, the man was a vocal critic of police
last spring when he was working at the
Greyhound bus station.
The man called police racist for their han
dling of an assault on a bus driver.
But the man’s accusations of police miscon
duct were unfounded. '
“He wasn’t straightforward in his criticisms
of police,” Casady said.
Police had the man’s house under surveil
lance last week in preparation for serving a
So when the man left his house around 3
p.m. Thursday, police followed and made the
arrest without incident, Casady said.
When police searched the man’s house, they
did not find money or the gun used in the rob
bery, but Casady said the investigation would
The arrest came exactly a week, almost to
the minute, after the 3:51 p.m. robbery of the
Union Bank branch inside the 70th and Van
Dorn streets Russ’s Market.
'Armed robbery is one of
the most dangerous crimes
because of all the
things that can go wrong
(during the crime)”
Lincoln police chief
The man entered the bank, pointed a hand
gun and ordered one of the two tellers to empty
a cash drawer.
A few weeks before the robbery, the Union
Bank employees had gone through police train
ing on hpw to handle a robbery.
Casady said he was very concerned about
catching the man responsible for the robbery.
■ “Armed robbery is one of the most danger
ous crimes because of all the things that can go
wrong (during the crime),” Casady said.
But the man was caught quickly after sur
veillance video aired on local newscasts.
“This equipment comes in very handy in a
case like this,” Casady said.
Quality surveillance systems are a worth
while investment for financial institutions,
Better video helps police inves
and involve citizens.
“In all criminal investigations, citiZQl idput
is critical,” Casady said. “Nine times out of 10
a crime is solved because someone tells us what
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ALL MATERIAL COPYRIGHT 1999
THE DAILY NEBRASKAN
Accident kills UNL
student, injures five
ACCIDENT from page 1
Linnell, along with two
other passengers, was sent to
Gothenburg Memorial Hospital
and later transferred to
Kearney’s Good Samaritan
Linnell’s father, Robert,
said he was in London at the
time of the accident when he
got a 7 a.m. phone call with the
“I spent roughly 25 hours to
come home to see my boy,” he
Linnell’s brother, Steve, a
senior at Papillion-LaVista
High School, said family and
friends have been supportive,
but he still cannot believe his
brother may not be able to
“The real emotions have
not struck -1 haven’t seen my
brother for over a week,” Steve
Linnell said. “I, we, can only
pray for the best of all those
Linnell’s parents said they
would stay by their son’s side
until he is well.
“My heart really goes out to
Jason’s folks and the families
of the other students,” Robert
Linnell said. “I don’t know
what I would be feeling if it had
REGENTS from page 1
was UNO hockey home games at the Omaha
Civic Auditorium, where beer is sold.
Alcohol sales woe incorporated into the 10
year contract to help defer the costs of the hock
Wilson said he didn’t want other spoils to
think this kind of arrangement was acceptape.
But detractors on die board said alpohol at
sporting events was already covered ly a state
law banning its sale in state buildings and poli
cies at each campus banning alcohol.
“The question is what is good policy,”
Regent Drew Miller of Papillion said. “Binge
drinking is the biggest problem on campus, and
this policy does not address that”
The regents voted 4-3 against Wilson’s pro
posal with Miller abstaining.
The regents also approved the hiring of two
new faculty members on Lincoln and Omaha
Marsha Torr was named the vice chancellor
for research at the University of Nebraska
Torr most recently oversaw research and
taught physics at the University of South
Carolina in Colombia, where UNL Chancellor
James Moeser worked before coming to
On April 15, Torr will replace Priscilla
Grew, who retired after six years to return to
Torr will have a tenured professorship in the
physics and astronomy department
“This is both an honor and a wonderful
opportunity for me,” Torr said in a statement “I
have beat impressed with the faculty, staff and
administrators that I have met...”
At the University of Nebraska Medical
Center, Kenneth Cowan, M.D., will lead the
Eppley Cancer Research Institute.
Before coming to Omaha, Cowan did genet
ic and cancer research and clinical work with the
National Cancer Institute.
The regents, who were in Kearney Friday to
meet with UNK administrators for an annual
check-up, approved the lease agreement for a
new UNO residence hall and commons build
One of the project architects, Tim Holland
of the Holland Basham firm in Omaha, present
ed plans and a model of the 164-bed, suite-style
“This buiMing will be around for a long
time, so students who graduate in 2004 can
bring their grandchildren back to see it,”
UNO Student Regent Jon Schrader joked
that there should be a student regent room in the
new hall. • J'LUU}-' j
The $15 million residence hall will be built
' : and operated for 40 years by the Suzanne and
Coffer Scott Foundation.
After the 40-year period, die university will
assume ownership of the hall and oversee its
UNMC Chancellor Harold Maurer, M.D.,
said he had signed a letter of intent with
Methodist Hospital and Nebraska Health
System to form die new mental health partner
The two hospitals plan to form a jointly
sponsored, nonprofit corporation to oversee the
The new mental heath and substance abuse
services and UNMC’s psychiatry department
will be housed in three existing buildings on die
Methodist Richard Young campus.
“We’re extremely pleased with the educa
tional and research opportunities this partner
ship will provide,” Maurer said. “We are com
mitted to making UNMC a world-class institu
tion, and we believe this is the next step to
In other regents news:
■ The regents approved three deferred
maintenance or renovation projects, including
authorizing bids for Hamilton Hall renovations.
The other projects are on the Kearney and
■ Association of Students of the University
of Nebraska President Sara Russell was recog
nized for her year of service, and last year’s
board chairman, Regent Robert Allen, of
Hastings, was recognized.
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