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New trial for woman in decade-old death of ranch hand found in Utah

By Associated Press | Posted - Apr 23rd, 2013 @ 9:49pm



ELKO, Nev. (AP) - An Elko woman whose murder conviction was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court is going back on trial in the killing of a ranch hand whose body was found in Utah 10 years ago.

The Elko Daily Free Press reports Linda Fields, 52, pleaded not guilty Monday to the same crime she was convicted of in 2007.

She originally was sent to prison for life along with her husband John Fields for the murder of Jaromir Palensky, a 61-year-old Czech immigrant whose body was found in 2003 in the Jordan River near Salt Lake City.

Prosecutors say the couple murdered Palensky or commissioned his killing after taking out a $300,000 insurance policy on him.

Palensky was last seen alive at the Fields' ranch east of Elko, where he worked after being released from prison in fall 2003 following an alcohol-related conviction, according to court documents.

While in prison, he had given Linda Fields power of attorney over his affairs, which allowed her to take out the insurance policy naming herself as beneficiary, prosecutors said.

In granting her appeal two years ago, the high court agreed with her defense lawyers' argument that the first jury should not have heard testimony of an alleged murder plot involving the couple against another man, Roy Mobert, with whom they had financial dealings.

While he was ill, Mobert also had given Linda Fields power of attorney. He rescinded it when he recuperated and disputes arose on her handling of his assets.

Prosecutors argued the testimony concerning Mobert showed a "preconceived plan" by the couple to take advantage of elderly victims by changing their wills and then seeking someone to kill them.

No charges were ever filed in the alleged murder plot and Mobert died of natural causes.

The Supreme Court ruled in Linda Fields' appeal there was a distinction between Palensky and Mobert, and that the testimony prejudiced jurors and the trial outcome. But for a variety of reasons, it rejected similar arguments in an appeal by her husband, who currently is serving two life prison terms.

Fields' new trial is set for Oct. 22.


Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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