Justice Nears End for Cold Case Murder Trial - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Justice Nears End for Cold Case Murder Trial

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A 24-year search for justice nears the end.

John Oldson may learn his fate Friday as he stands accused of killing Cathy Beard in Ord in a case that ran cold decades ago.

John Oldson's fate is now in the hands of a jury in a town 40 miles from where Beard was last seen. Oldson flirted with her at the Someplace Else bar in Ord on that night in 1989.

He told investigators they went out in the alley, where he says his hormones got the best of him. However, she rejected his sexual advances.

From there, the story diverges.

If you believe Oldson, man or men in a pickup with 88 county plates picked up Beard.

Prosecutors say that's hard to believe. They asked what are the odds someone else would try to kidnap Beard only moments later in a back alley in what they call a "sleepy little town."

While Oldson was the last person seen with Beard, it's all based on circumstantial evidence.

There's no DNA, no fibers and no blood linking Beard to Oldson. Then there's the matter of a diary Oldson kept, and comments he made to others about what he'd done.

The defense says Oldson may be socially awkward even weird or creepy, but that doesn't make him a killer. 

They also admit they still don't know how Cathy Beard died or how her body ended up in a ravine.

And no murder weapons were ever recovered.

They tried to suggest Cathy Beard could have died after being hit by a truck, or could have been killed by any number of people.

They are trying to show there are doubts about Oldson's involvement.

After three hours of closing arguments, Judge Karin Noakes submitted the case to the jury at 3:45 Thursday afternoon.

They have three options. First, they could find Oldson guilty of first degree murder. They would have to believe it was premeditated, or in the commission of another crime, namely rape or kidnapping.

They could go with the lesser charge of second degree murder.

Finally, they could very well come back with a verdict of not guilty.

Deliberations will resume Friday morning at the Howard County Courthouse.

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