LINCOLN — As a running back for the Nebraska football team, Thunder Collins looked for an opening to gain extra yards.
But his options in overturning a conviction for first-degree murder are running out.
The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request for a new trial for Collins, who was sentenced to life in prison for a drug-related murder in 2008.
The high court ruled that Collins was not denied a fair trial when a judge decided to allow jurors to go home for the weekend during its deliberations.
The court also rejected arguments that Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall should have recused himself from dealing with the appeal because he was not impartial.
Collins, now 32, was convicted in the murder of a California drug dealer, Timothy Thomas, and the attempted murder of dealer Marshall Turner.
It was the second time the Supreme Court has rejected appeals raised by Collins.
In April the court rejected most of Collins' appeals but sent the case back to Randall to determine whether the jury's deliberations were tainted by the weekend away from the courthouse. The Supreme Court expressed concern that Randall had not obtained “express agreement or consent” in allowing the jurors to go home.
Collins claimed that the jurors had read about the case on the Internet and had talked to loved ones about the case.
But jurors testified they did not use the Internet to look up the case and had followed the judge's instructions to avoid discussing the case. The Supreme Court ruled that the jury separation did not prejudice Collins' case.
Attorney General Jon Bruning, whose office handled the appeal, said in a statement Friday that he agreed with the court's ruling.
Collins' lead attorney, Steve Lefler, was out of town and did not return a phone message.
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