LINCOLN — A judge has ordered final payment of legal fees to the attorney for David Rice, who died in prison last year while serving a life term for the 1970 killing of an Omaha police officer.
The recent payment of $1,251 in fees was for arguing an appeal before the Nebraska Supreme Court, said Timothy Ashford, the lawyer who represented Rice. The money was in addition to $7,400 Ashford received earlier for other legal work he’d done on behalf of the inmate, who went by the name Mondo we Langa.
Ashford was appointed to represent Rice on a postconviction motion aimed at getting the conviction overturned. But Douglas County District Judge James Gleason ruled that the motion was frivolous and refused to authorize county payment of his fees.
Ashford appealed the judge’s decision, which was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Omaha Police Officer Larry Minard died when a suitcase filled with dynamite exploded as he responded to a 911 call reporting a woman screaming inside a vacant house.
Several days after the explosion, Rice and Ed Poindexter turned themselves in to police. At their joint trial, a 15-year-old former member of the Black Panthers, Duane Peak, testified that he had planted the bomb and called 911 at the direction of Rice and Poindexter.
Both men consistently claimed their innocence. Their advocates say the men were framed for their political views because they helped lead a Black Panther-like organization during a time of high racial tension in Omaha.
Rice died last year at the infirmary of the Nebraska State Penitentiary after a lengthy respiratory illness. He was 68.
Poindexter, 72, underwent cardiovascular surgery last year at a Lincoln hospital. He is an inmate at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.