Supreme Court rejects appeal by one of the 'Boys Don't Cry' killers

The Nebraska Supreme Court denied an appeal by John Lotter, who is on death row for the slayings of Brandon Teena, Lisa Lambert and Phillip Devine.

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court has once again rejected an appeal by death row inmate John Lotter, one of two men convicted in a triple homicide fictionalized in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry.”

The court ruled Friday that Lotter’s most recent appeal was filed too late, missing a court-required deadline, and thus his appeal could not be considered.

Lotter, 47, and Marvin Nissen were sentenced to die for the 1993 slayings of Brandon Teena, Lisa Lambert and Phillip Devine at a rented farmhouse near Humboldt.

The case gained national attention because 21-year-old Teena was a transgender man, born Teena Brandon, who had dated a female friend of the two men. The case inspired the 1999 film that won actress Hilary Swank an Academy Award.

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Lotter has filed a series of unsuccessful appeals of his sentence and conviction.

In his latest appeal, his attorney argued that the state’s death penalty law violates a defendant’s constitutional rights to a jury trial and due process because it gives judges the final say when imposing death sentences. Juries, his attorney argued, should make that call, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Lotter’s suit said his latest appeal should be considered despite missing the deadline because of a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The State Supreme Court, however, rejected that, stating that the ruling in Hurst v. Florida did not establish “a new rule of law,” and thus did not provide an exception to the deadline rule.

Last month, Nebraska had its first execution in 21 years. Carey Dean Moore was put to death Aug. 14 for the 1979 slayings of two Omaha cab drivers.

Reporter - Regional/state issues

Paul covers state government and affiliated issues. He specializes in tax and transportation issues, following the governor and the state prison system. Follow him on Twitter @PaulHammelOWH. Phone: 402-473-9584.

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