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Wyo. Man Given New Trial By Nebraska High Court

Nebraska Supreme Court (Dave Williss, flickr.com)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – The Nebraska Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a Wyoming man who was convicted of posing as a licensed car dealer and sentenced as a habitual criminal to 12 to 30 years in a Nebraska prison.

Thomas Merchant, of Cheyenne, was convicted last year of being an unlicensed dealer after prosecutors say Merchant bought 19 vehicles from the Nebraska Auto Auction in June 2011 using a fake dealer’s license number.

But on Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court said the lower court should not have allwed testimony from the director of Nebraska’s motor vehicle licensing board, in which he interpreted the state’s car dealer licensing requirements.  The high court said the testimony “instructed the jury on how to make its decision.”

Jury instruction is the duty of the judge.

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