We have been following this case for YEARS now, and it's one of the more bizarre and convoluted you'll ever hear. FINALLY, dad LUCAS PETERSON has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his 11-month-old daughter. Frankly, he should be up on homicide charges, but you get what you can get. Dad was the sole caregiver at the time of the girl's death. I still have yet to find out why.
Seward man pleads guilty to manslaughter
Father admits to killing daughter in 2007
Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 3:17 PM CST
SEWARD — Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning announced Thursday that Lucas Peterson, 25, of Seward, has pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter and one count of unlawful burial of human remains related to the death of his 11-month-old daughter Trista in 2007.
“Mr. Peterson has finally been brought to justice for killing little Trista,” said Bruning. “Now those who loved her can begin the healing process.”
In 2007, Lucas Peterson was charged with intentional child abuse that caused his daughter’s death.
Prosecutors say Trista Peterson died in January 2007 at her father's apartment in Pleasant Dale, about 70 miles southwest of Omaha. Lucas Peterson cut a deal with prosecutors and in April of that year led authorities to her body in a shallow grave in neighboring Butler County.
Legal technicalities related to the arrangement, promises made to Peterson and interviewing procedures prompted Judge Alan Gless to rule that charges couldn’t be filed against the defendant. Prosecutors appealed and in September, 2010, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that Peterson could be prosecuted.
After all the proceedings, hearings and rulings — a trial won’t be necessary now that Peterson has pleaded guilty.
Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 28, in the District Court of Seward County.
Manslaughter is a Class 3 felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and/or $25,000 fine. Unlawful burial of human remains is a Class 4 felony and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or $10,000 fine. All totaled, Peterson could be facing up to 25 years in prison.
Nebraska Assistant Attorneys General Doug Warner and James Smith handled the case in cooperation with Seward County Attorney Wendy Elston’s Office.