New details may explain Petersen's motive

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Updated: Wed, 28 May 2014 06:11:01 CST

Michael Petersen will spend life behind bars for the death of his ex-wife. The Glenvil man accused of double murder was sentenced today in Buffalo County District Court.
 
News 5's Nathan Gogo was in the courtroom when that sentence was handed down...

Petersen was crying as the judge read his sentence. He was sentenced to life in prison for the November 2013 shooting death of his ex-wife Nancy Petersen. In April, Petersen pleaded no contest to first degree murder for the case. Court documents reveal an estranged relationship between the two.

"At the end of the day this is about a woman who lost her life.. she was a grandmother a mother."

It started back on December 21st, 2001. Michael and Nancy Petersen got into a disagreement over purchasing a pool table. He snapped at her. So, she filed for a protection order.

Soon after in March 2002, Michael attempted suicide from carbon monoxide inside of his garage. A neighbor found him unconscious on the floor. Michael was hospitalized and discharged. He received a psychiatric test and was found not mentally ill.

Meanwhile, Nancy filed for divorce while he was hospitalized and took visitation rights away from Michael to see their son. There was a 600,000 dollar settlement for the divorce. They split the money, but Michael felt that he earned most of it.

In 2010, Michael suffered extreme loneliness and took up online dating. But was scammed out of around 150,000 dollars. He contacted the FBI, but nothing could be done.

Michael told his defense attorney that in November 2013, he had enough of getting "screwed by people" and wanted to get even.

Buffalo County Attorney Shawn Eatherton says the sentencing will bring justice for Nancy.
 
"I think that justice was served to the best extent of our system. Again, nothing brings Nancy Peterson back however Mr. Peteresen will serve the rest of his life in prison."
 
Petersen's defense attorney Jeffrey Pickens said Michael regrets what he did and if he had to do it all over again he would've taken his own life instead. In fact, that was his plan. He said he had one bullet left in his gun, but says he was arrested before that could happen. Michael said he's remorseful for the hurt he's caused his son.
 
Why did they not seek the death penalty in Buffalo County?
 
Well, Shawn Eatherton told me there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Including whether the family or the victims want that option and whether it would be a successful sentencing. However, Petersen still faces the death penalty if he is convicted in Hall County for the November death of Grand Island attorney Todd Eslbernd. A trial date has not been set for that case.