A defense lawyer Monday asked for Michael Ryan's death sentence to be changed to life without parole.

The Nebraska Supreme Court has set a March 6 execution for Ryan, who was convicted in 1986 of murdering James Thimm during ritualistic torture at a farm near Rulo.

In response, defense attorney Jerry Soucie of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy filed a 116-page motion for post-conviction relief with the district court of Richardson County, where the crime took place.

Soucie plans Tuesday to to ask the state Supreme Court to issue a stay of execution, he said in an email.

The district court filing argues Ryan never had the chance to present grounds for relief related to the planned method of execution -- lethal injection -- because it wasn't used in Nebraska during Ryan's prior proceedings.

The filing argues that carrying out Ryan's sentence in the wake of state legislators changing Nebraska's execution method from electrocution to lethal injection in 2010 would violate the law.

Soucie also says the state Department of Correctional Services showed a "pattern of 'bad faith'" in seeking to buy supplies of the lethal-injection drug sodium thiopental, and Attorney General Jon Bruning's office violated Ryan's right to due process in seeking an execution date.

In previous filings with the high court, Bruning's office called challenges by Ryan's lawyer of the state's purchase of a lethal-injection drug "frivolous, dilatory and irrelevant."

Reach Nicholas Bergin at 402-473-7304 or nbergin@journalstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/LJSBergin.