Convicted Killer John Oldson's Request for Retrial Denied - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Convicted Killer John Oldson's Request for Retrial Denied

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A judge has denied convicted murderer John Oldson's request for a retrial.

Howard County Judge Karin Noakes Tuesday overruled Oldson's motion for a new trial, saying in court documents that "insufficient evidence was presented to warrant a new trial."

Oldson, 47, was convicted of second-degree murder in February for abducting 30-year-old waitress Cathy Beard from an Ord tavern back in 1989, killing her and dumping her body in a field outside of town. Her remains were found three years later.

Oldson and his attorneys appeared for a retrial hearing May 6, arguing that they had discovered new evidence and a new witness who wasn't available to testify during the February trial. That evidence included jailhouse phone calls from another man involved in the case, Doug Olson – who has never even met John Oldson.

Doug Olson is currently jailed in Valley County, Neb., after authorities arrested him on an unrelated warrant in February – just days after John Oldson's trial wrapped up.

Doug Olson testified during the retrial hearing about a gruesome journal the defense says he mailed to John Oldson's Missouri home after his trial ended. The journal – which details the kidnapping, sexual abuse and murders of four women, who it says were kept in a cave on a Chambers, Neb. ranch – was once believed to be written by John Oldson himself.

Doug Olson testified during the hearing that a woman named Jean Backus, who he worked for off and on from 2007 through 2010, also kept a journal, and that she had a suspicious cave on her land – much like the one described in the writings.

This, the defense argued, could prove that Backus was holding several women hostage, including Cathy Beard, and that John Oldson wasn't her killer.

They also told the judge the journal was an integral part of their defense that contained such "egregious and deplorable behavior," that it couldn't be made up, and were fighting to have it introduced as evidence in a new trial.

The writings were described, in part, to the jurors during John Oldson's trial, but they never got to see it because, to this day, no one has been able to prove who wrote it.

The defense also introduced new evidence during the hearing that placed Doug Olson's DNA on the stamp and the envelope the journal was mailed to John Oldson in.

In jailhouse phone calls after his February arrest, Doug Olson reportedly talks about the journal, but on the stand May 6, he denied knowing anything about it. And the prosecution argued that there's no way to know if the things written in that journal ever really happened, or if it's been altered, calling it "inadmissible hearsay." 

In court documents submitted Tuesday, Judge Noakes says: "The defense contends this journal supports one of their defense theories...The defendant claims this journal was written by a woman living on the ranch, Jean Backus. It references several families being held against their will and later killed...This additional evidence did not cure the foundational hearsay and reliability deficiencies existing previously."

The document goes on to say that even if the evidence had been available prior to Oldson's trial, the journal still wouldn't have been admissible as evidence.

Oldson will be sentenced June 3 in Howard County District Court. He faces 20 years to life in prison.

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