Supreme Court turns down review of Lotter case

2012-03-26T21:00:00Z Supreme Court turns down review of Lotter caseBy LORI PILGER / Lincoln Journal Star
March 26, 2012 9:00 pm  • 

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down Nebraska death row inmate John Lotter's request to review his conviction based on his co-defendant recanting what he said at trial.

Without elaboration, the court denied the request last week.

The move may not have been unexpected, given that the country's highest court grants and hears arguments in only about 1 percent of the cases filed each term, according to information on its website.

Lotter was convicted in the 1993 triple murder of Teena Brandon, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine at a rural Humboldt farmhouse, and has maintained his innocence.

The killings inspired the 1999 film "Boys Don't Cry."

At trial, Thomas Nissen testified against Lotter as part of a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty. Nissen said he stabbed Brandon, but that Lotter fired the shots that killed all three.

Nissen got a life sentence. Lotter was sentenced to death.

In 2007, Nissen changed his story and said he, not Lotter, shot them.

Under Nebraska's felony murder statutes, Lotter did not have to fire the fatal shots himself to be found guilty, as long as he was participating in the commission of a crime when it happened.

Lotter appealed based on Nissen's recantation, but his appeals were rejected by the Nebraska Supreme Court and later by the U.S. District Court of Nebraska.

Lotter then went to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and in a split decision a three-judge panel rejected his request Aug. 23.

That prompted Lotter to ask the panel to rehear the case or for the full Eighth Circuit to reconsider the denial. That request was denied in October.

The next step was the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lotter's attorney, Andre Barry, declined to comment on the order Monday.

​Reach Lori Pilger at 402-473-7237 or or follow her on Twitter at LJSpilger.

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