John Oldson Trial: Should Excerpts from Oldson's Personal Journal be Admissible in Court?

John Oldson

Week two of the John Oldson murder trial brought with it some shocking testimony from state witnesses Monday, who say Oldson alluded to killing Cathy Beard on several different occasions.

Suzanne Pelster was the prosecution's first witness of the day. She testified that she didn't know Oldson or Beard well, but that she frequented the same bar – then called "The Someplace Else Tavern" in Ord – where Beard was last seen alive.

And that at that bar on three different occasions in 1990 – the year after Beard's disappearance, but three years before her remains were found – she overheard Oldson tell his then–girlfriend, Minnie, that if she didn't do whatever it was he wanted, "that he would do the same to her that he did to Cathy Beard," Pelster said.

Pelster said she reported what she heard to police immediately, but that she was blown off – and wasn't asked for an official statement until months later.

The defense, however, argued that Pelster only mentioned two instances to police – not three, as she said on the stand.

One of the prosecution's next witnesses, Barbara Dasher, told a similar story about troubling conversations she had with Oldson following Beard's disappearance. Dasher told the jury that on multiple occasions, Oldson told her that Beard was dead and would never be found, and that she, "deserved what she got."

She also testified that Oldson called her on the phone after Beard's remains were found in 1993 and threatened her, saying that if she said anything, the same thing could happen to her that happened to Beard.

Another key witness for the prosecution, Marcella Jorgensen, testified that she was friends with Minnie – who later became Oldson's wife –and that the day Beard's remains were found on a dirt road outside of Ord, Oldson and Minnie suggested they go check out the scene.

On the way there, Jorgensen said, Oldson was driving very anxiously and excitedly – to the point that Jorgensen was nauseated by the time they arrived.

But, the most interesting part of the trial Monday actually happened after the jury left the room for the day, when the prosecution and defense got into a heated exchange about a story Oldson wrote less than a year after Beard's disappearance, about a woman who was abducted from an alley and murdered.

The defense argues that the story is a work of fiction and shouldn't be admissible in court, and that all it proves is that Oldson "is creepy and writes creepy things," but not that he is a killer.

The prosecution argued, however, that the jury has a right to know this story with a plot eerily similar to Beard's case exists.

The judge will determine Tuesday whether or not some details about that story will be allowed as evidence.