UPDATE: Nelson gets two life sentences for murders

Widow says no punishment will ever be enough in death of her husband and his brother
Garland Nelson
Kevin Murphy

A Missouri man pleaded guilty Friday to the murders of two Shawano County brothers and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison.

According to court records, Garland J. Nelson, 24, of rural Braymer, Missouri, was a business partner of Nicholas and Justin Diemel, of Bonduel and Pulaski, respectively, and defrauded the brothers out of approximately $215,000.

Nelson admitted to authorities that he killed the brothers in July 2019 and burned their bodies after they arrived at his farm to collect what they were owed or to retrieve the cattle they hired him to raise.

Friday’s plea hearing took place in Cass County, Missouri, after a change of venue from Nelson’s county of residence, Caldwell County.

By pleading guilty to two counts of murder in the first degree, Nelson avoided a possible death sentence. He waived his right to a sentencing investigation which allowed Circuit Judge R. Michael Wagner to sentence him immediately after taking his guilty pleas.

In exchange for the pleas, the state of Missouri dropped other charges against Nelson, which included armed criminal action, tampering with a motor vehicle and abandonment of a corpse.

A call to Caldwell County Prosecuting Attorney Brady Kopek for comment wasn’t immediately returned before deadline.

“The matter has been pending for over three years, and it is now finally over,” Special Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff added. “I am hopeful that the Diemel family will now be able to return to their lives without this hanging over them. I know that no sentence will bring Nick and Justin back to them, but they can sleep knowing that Nelson will be behind bars for the rest of his life.”

In a victim impact statement to the court, Lisa Diemel, Nick’s wife, said that the brothers were living their dream with their other brother, Brandon, operating Diemel’s Livestock.

“I … never would have imagined raising our four children on my own without you,” Lisa Diemel said. “We had big plans for our family’s future and it has been unimaginably hard coming to terms that I will forever navigate this life without you.

“What has been stolen by the monster in this room is unimaginable and forever irreplaceable. No punishment will ever be enough.”