A Nebraska man has been sentenced to death this week for the murder of Sydney Loofe, a 24-year-old hardware store clerk who disappeared after an online date and was later found dismembered.

A three-judge panel handed down the death sentence for 54-year-old Aubrey Trail.

“It was expected,” Trail’s defense attorney Ben Murray said. “We already knew they were gunning for the death penalty.”

Trail and his girlfriend Bailey Boswell were convicted of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy to commit murder, and improper disposal of human remains.

During sentencing, Trail read a statement admitting that he killed Loofe. But he denied that her death was premeditated, the Associated Press reports.

Trail claimed that Boswell brought Loofe to his apartment because she wanted to recruit her into his cult.  Trail said he killed Loofe because he feared she would alert authorities about the lifestyle he was living with Boswell.

“I had no doubt she would tell people if I let her go,” Trail said. “I have done some terrible things in my life,” he added.

Boswell’s sentencing is scheduled for later this summer.

For Trail to have received the death penalty, the murder had to have met the legal standard of exceptional depravity.

“There is no reasonable doubt that this aggravating circumstance against Aubrey Trail justifies an imposition of a sentence of death,” Saline County District Judge Vicky Johnson said. “Ms. Loofe was needlessly mutilated by Trail in order to satisfy his intellectual and sexual curiosity.”

“Sydney Loofe posed no threat to Aubrey Trail or Bailey Boswell,” she said. “She was completely harmless and her murder completely unnecessary.”

Loofe was reported missing on November 16, 2017, the day after she went on an online date. Her dismembered remains were found stuffed in garbage bags in a field in Edgar on December 4.

Trail previously told the Omaha WorldHerald in 2018 how he killed Loofe.

“It was suffocation. It happened in Saline County,” Trail said.

Trail also told the paper that Loofe had agreed to be part of a sexual fantasy with Trail and two other women while Boswell was passed out from drugs in the other room. Loofe had something around her neck when she died, Trail said.

“It wasn’t supposed to go to the extreme it went, of course not,” he said. “It wasn’t meant that she was to die.”

In 2019, Trail attempted to slit his throat during a court hearing after a witness left the stand during a hearing at the Saline County Courthouse Trail. At the time, he suddenly began yelling about Boswell’s innocence before trying to slit his throat with an unknown object.

In courtroom footage obtained by the World-Herald, Trail can be heard shouting off-camera, “Bailey is innocent, and I curse you all!” just before he dragged the object, which appeared to be some kind of small blade, across the side of his neck and fell from his wheelchair. Trail was taken to a hospital and later discharged.

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