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Employer is accused of murder

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ELKO, Nev. (AP) — The husband of a woman convicted of murder in the death of their former ranch hand has been charged in the case.

Vern Fields also is charged with murder in the death of Jeromir "Jerry" Palensky, whose body was found in the Jordan River near Salt Lake City in January 2004.

Fields' wife, Linda, was convicted by an Elko County jury last month and sentenced to life without parole. She was taken to prison Monday.

Prosecutors contend she killed Palensky or persuaded her husband to after obtaining a $300,000 life insurance policy for the native of the Czech Republic that made her the beneficiary.

While it never came up in the trial, investigators also say that Palensky's will was forged. It left his belongings, including property in Utah, to the couple.

Elko County Sheriff's Lt. Kevin McKinney continued the investigation during and after Linda Fields' trial.

He said the couple claimed the will was written for Palensky by a man named Sherman Butts. But the will was drawn up in cursive handwriting, and Butts' daughter said her father never wrote in cursive except to sign his name.

Vern Fields' former wife, Lavon Everts, told police the handwriting on the will was her ex-husband's, and an analysis of the handwriting performed by Independent Forensic Laboratories out of West Jordan found that Fields "probably authored the will."