State Rests in Esch Trial


Testimony heated up on day two of the Trent Esch trial in Broken Bow Tuesday as the state called its final witnesses to the stand in what proved to be explosive testimony against Esch, who is accused of shooting at an empty Custer County deputy sheriff's patrol car last March.

Esch's brother–in–law, Mike Evans, was the first to testify, telling the jury that on April 10, 2012, Esch confessed to him and his wife Amber -- Esch's sister -- to shooting up Custer County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dan Spanel's patrol car three weeks before.

Evans testified that Esch told them that the Nebraska State Patrol already knew and were coming to get him. But, police weren't coming for Esch. In fact, he wasn't even a suspect.

So why did he allegedly confess?

The defense argued that Esch is a narcissist and an alcoholic with a pill problem, and that that's what led him to make the whole story up.

But Esch's former friend, Ty Taylor, who worked with him at the Evans family's feed store in Broken Bow, also testified that Esch confessed to him, even telling him he wore socks over his hands when he loaded his gun so he wouldn't leave any fingerprints.

The defense questioned Taylor's involvement in the crime thought, saying he also owns a .223 rifle -- the same type of gun used that night -- and that he only implicated Esch after police began questioning him.

Esch's father, Ted Esch -- who described his son as his best friend -- admitted to the jury that his son does have an alcohol and pill addiction, but he didn't do what he's being accused of.

He says he knows his son didn't do it because he was at his house at 8:25 on the night in question -- 25 minutes before the shooting took place. He said Esch was "hammered" and passed out on the couch.

Ted Esch told the courtroom he was worried his son would try to drive somewhere so he took the keys to his son's 4–wheeler, tractor and one of his pickup trucks.

That left Trent Esch with only one vehicle that night -- the one installed with an ignition lock device -- making it impossible to even start without first passing a built–in breathalizer test.

And Brad Fralick, director of government relations for Consumer Safety Technology -- the company that manufactures the specific device installed in Esch's vehicle -- testified that the data from Esch's device shows he never even tried to start his car that night.

The defense also questioned several of Chief Deputy Spanel's neighbors, who all say they heard gunshots that night, but none of them could identify the shooter.

One neighbor said they saw someone wearing a red hoodie. Police say they found a man matching that description in the vicinity of Spanel's home that night, but it turned out to be a dead end.

The defense will call their last witnesses to testify Wednesday before each side makes their closing arguments.