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Lawyer asked about Richter conflict

Hearing aims to eliminate future issues

September 23, 2011
By PETER KASPARI, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

With almost a month until an Omaha woman's murder trial, attorneys on both sides are working out potential issues to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Tracey Richter, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in a nearly 10-year-old case. Her trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 25 in Webster County.

Richter was formerly known as Tracey Richter-Roberts, but is now being referred to by her legal name of Tracey Richter.

On Thursday, what's known as a Watson hearing was held at the Webster County Courthouse. It was scheduled after Sac County Attorney Ben Smith became concerned that Scott Bandstra, one of Richter's attorneys, has a conflict of interest and should not be representing his client.

Bandstra had represented Richter and her then-husband Michael Roberts in a wrongful death lawsuit. According to Second Judicial Chief Judge Kurt Wilke, Smith had concerns that Bandstra "gleaned information from Mr. Roberts" that is sensitive to the upcoming trial.

That information was not revealed during the hearing.

In court, Bandstra denied ever coming across any sensitive information.

"I can tell you that if I believed I had gleaned any information, I would not be a part of this case," he said.

During the hearing, Wilke asked Richter if she would like Bandstra to continue serving as her defense attorney.

"I want him to continue," she told Wilke.

Wilke also asked if there was anything Bandstra could have been told that would cause him to have a conflict.

"I can't think of anything," she replied.

Wilke said he will delay making a decision until Smith speaks with Michael Roberts and finds out what was discussed.

"Within one week from today, if you have anything important, have it brought to my attention," Wilke told Smith.

Additionally, Wilke requested that all depositions be finished within two weeks so the trial can start on time.

Richter is accused of killing 20-year-old Dustin Wehde on Dec. 13, 2001, in her former Early home. Charges weren't filed in the case until late July 2011. Investigators initially believed Richter was a victim of a home invasion, but in the nearly 10 years since Wehde's death evidence emerged that suggested Richter may have killed him.

Bandstra said his client shot Wehde in self-defense after the alleged victim attempted to commit a home invasion.

If convicted, Richter faces life in prison without parole.

Contact Peter Kaspari at (515) 573-2141 or



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