Murder trials start after Labor Day |

Murder trials start after Labor Day

Staff Reports

Four murder cases involving Douglas County residents last winter won’t begin to go to a jury until at least Labor Day.

An eight-day trial is set for Sept. 2 in the case of a Round Hill woman who is accused of shooting her husband.

Tatiana Leibel, 50, claims her husband, Harvey, committed suicide on Feb. 23 using a rifle. But investigators claim the evidence doesn’t support Leibel’s story.

Leibel is being held in Douglas County Jail on $1 million bail or bond.

Nicole Followill, 30, is scheduled to have a two-week trial starting Sept. 23.

Followill has been in jail on $1 million in connection with the Dec. 2, 2013, shooting of her roommate, Justin Richard Thrift, 33.

She claims Thrift had beaten her after she evicted him from the home they shared on Toler Avenue. An inquest was called to consider the possibility of self-defense, but concluded Thrift died of criminal means.

According to court documents Followill admitted firing the weapon, but said it was in self-defense.

A Fish Springs man who shot his caretaker during an argument over her dog faces an Oct. 27 trial.

Melvin O. Norlund, 81, is accused of shooting 51-year-old Catherine Mary Costanza with a shotgun on Nov. 21, 2013.

Norlund claims the shooting was an accident. He said Costanza grabbed the barrel of the shotgun he threatened to use to kill the dog.

Norlund has remained in Douglas County Jail since he was arrested on $1 million bail.

The state is not seeking the death penalty in any of the three cases being adjudicated in Douglas County.

An open murder charge allows a jury to determine the degree. Jurors would be instructed on first-degree, second-degree, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

The fourth slaying occurred on Jan. 19 at Carson Tahoe Hospital where 89-year-old Minden resident William Dresser shot his wife Francis.

Dresser has been out of custody as murder charges against him in Carson City are still on hold.

Dresser faces a charge of open murder with a deadly weapon for the shooting but remains out of jail on $250,000 bail posted by his son and daughter.

“Parties agree to continue this case as the defendant is very ill and unable to come to court,” according to a stipulated agreement signed by District Attorney Neil Rombardo.

Francis Dresser fell and was paralyzed, prompting William to attempt to take her life and his own. However the gun he used came apart in his hands before he could shoot his wife and then turn the gun on himself.

Meanwhile, Douglas County detectives are investigating the June 23 discovery of human bones near Spooner Summit.

No cause of death or identity of the person found has been released.

The bones were discovered by an inmate work crew. Investigators believe they were from a person who died six months to a year ago.