Appeal from the District Court for Red Willow County: Jack H. Hendrix, William F. Colwell, and Herbert A. Ronin, Judges.
White, C. J., Spencer, Boslaugh, McCown, Newton, Clinton, and Brodkey, JJ.
1. : Guilty Plea. The standard for determining the validity of a guilty plea is whether or not it represents a voluntary and intelligent choice among the alternative courses of action open to the defendant.
2. : Homicide: Words and Phrases. The time required for premeditation and deliberation may be so short that it is instantaneous, and the design or purpose to kill may be formed upon premeditation and deliberation at any moment before the homicide is committed.
3. : Guilty Plea: Waiver. A valid and voluntary plea of guilty establishes the defendant's guilt of the offenses charged and embodies a waiver of all defenses to the charge, whether procedural, statutory, or constitutional.
4. : Sentences. It is within the discretion of the District Court to direct that sentences imposed for separate crimes be served consecutively.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mccown
The defendant, Harold D. Nokes, pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder for the killing of Wilma Hoyt, and one count of second degree murder for the killing of Edwin Hoyt. A three-Judge panel imposed a sentence of life imprisonment on the charge of first degree murder. The presiding District Judge imposed a sentence of life imprisonment on the second degree murder count, and directed the sentences to run consecutively. This appeal followed.
The relevant facts of the killings are taken from a statement made by the defendant on January 4, 1974, in the presence of a court reporter; the special prosecutor; the defendant's counsel; and the sheriff of Frontier County. The statement is designated as exhibit A and included in the bill of exceptions.
Edwin and Wilma Hoyt disappeared from their farm home near Culbertson, Nebraska, on September 23, 1973. After a couple of days, their daughter, Kay Hein, suspected foul play and gave the police some information which set off the extensive investigation that followed. The defendant, Harold D. Nokes, was among those investigated.
The defendant, Harold D. Nokes, was 45 years of age. He was employed by the State Department of Roads as an area foreman in McCook, Nebraska. He and his wife, Ena, had been married for some 27 years and had lived for 20 years in their home at 903 East G Street in McCook. Harold and Ena Nokes had been mutual friends of Mrs. Kay Hein and her husband, Dwayne, for several years.
At sometime in 1969 or 1970, Harold Nokes and Kay Hein became involved in a sexual relationship. In 1971, Mrs. Hein divorced her husband. Mrs. Hein then continued sexual relationships with the Nokeses until April or May of 1973. In April of 1973, Mrs. Hein attempted suicide and the defendant called her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt, and reported the incident to them. In May of 1973, Mrs. Hein broke off her relationship with the defendant. In June of 1973, Mr. Hoyt accused the defendant of attempting to blackmail Mrs. Hein and repeated the accusations on other occasions thereafter.
On Sunday, September 23, 1974, Harold Nokes and his wife left McCook at approximately 8 p.m., and decided to drive to the Hoyt's home near Culbertson to get the "misunderstandings straightened out." The defendant took a revolver along which he had purchased that summer, and put it in his belt under his coat. The defendant and Mrs. Nokes arrived at the Hoyt residence at about 8:30 p.m. After the four individuals had discussed the matter for a period of time, which is unclear in the record, the defendant suggested that the four of them go to the Nokes' house in McCook and have Mrs. Hein join them there. Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt agreed, and the defendant suggested that the Hoyts ride with him to McCook, and Mrs. Nokes followed in the Hoyt car.
When they arrived at the Nokes' residence in McCook, Mr. Hoyt had become angry and was talking loudly, and the defendant suggested that they all go to the basement so that the neighbors would not hear them. The four went to the basement. The defendant and Mr. Hoyt went into the wash room and the two women remained in the family room. The door between the two areas was open throughout the events. In the wash room, Mr. Hoyt said that he had had enough and he removed his glasses, drew his fist back, and came toward the ...