Sidney murder cases progress

The trial for a Sidney man accused of first degree murder was set today (Wednesday) for the week of July 15th. 53 year old Larry Martinez is accused of first degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony regarding the shooting death of 30 year old Mandy Kerschman last July. The trial is scheduled to run into the following week.

Court documents say Martinez told investigators he shot Kershman because of a text message from her that made him mad. Martinez could get life in prison if convicted.

Meanwhile, a second competency evaluation was ordered by Cheyenne County District Judge Derek Weimer for 46 year old Craig Johnson of Sidney. Johnson is accused of multiple felonies, including first degree murder in the 2011 death of his live-in girlfriend April Smith.

The defense had asked for a second evaluation after Johnson was "uncooperative" during the first round of tests last summer even though he was found competent to stand trial.

Johnson is accused of killing Smith after learning her former husband had fixed her car. Authorities found Smith December 12th,2011 lying on the living room floor with her hands and legs bound by wire and rope. Blood was found by deputies in a number of rooms in the house and the autopsy confirmed a blow to the head, signs of strangulation and bruises and lacerations on her face and body.

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