Adams County Motor Vehicle Homicide case may be headed to state appeals court

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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - An Adams county Motor Vehicle Homicide case may be headed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

Peter Trausch, 22, Juniata, was charged in the June 4, 2017, death of Abby Horsley, 22, of Hastings.

Court records show Trausch was driving a pickup in the area of Roseland Lake west of Hastings. Horsley, a passenger in his vehicle, was sitting on the passenger window with her arms and feet outside the pickup. When the pickup hit a bump in the road, Horsley was thrown from the vehicle and suffered injuries from which she later died.

Last month an Adams county district court judge threw out drunk driving evidence against Trausch.

Trausch's attorney argued that Nebraska's drunk driving laws apply only to drivers operating motor vehicles on public roadways or private areas to which the public has access. The area near Roseland Lake where Horsley's death occurred is property owned by the Little Blue Natural Resources District. Only Trausch and his family were allowed to drive on that property as permitted by an easement with the NRD.

District Judge Stephen Illingworth ruled that since the Horsley death occurred on private property not open to public access any DUI evidence gathered in the investigation should be suppressed and cannot be used in the case against Trausch.

The Adams County Attorney asked the judge to reconsider his ruling, arguing that since the property belongs to the NRD it is in fact state property and is therefore public. And that the state's drunk driving laws should apply in this case.

Judge Illingworth ruled that he would not reconsider his decision regarding the DUI evidence. But Tuesday he signed an order allowing the Adams County Attorney to take the matter to the Nebraska Court of Appeals in Lincoln.

The Adams county attorney has 30 days to file the appeal.

If convicted of felony motor vehicle homicide, Trausch could get up to 20 years in prison. His trial is scheduled January 14th.