December 1, 2017
A Nebraska death row inmate has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take his case and review decisions by a federal district court and appellate court to deny his latest challenge to his sentence.
John Lotter, who was convicted in the killing that inspired the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry,” specifically is seeking review of an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals order July 31 denying him permission to go forward with an appeal in U.S. District Court in Nebraska.
Rebecca Woodman and Jessica Sutton, of the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri, had sought to challenge Nebraska’s sentencing method, which relies on judges and not juries to determine if someone gets the ultimate punishment.
They started the challenge in U.S. District Court in Lincoln.
But in February, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf refused and denied Lotter’s habeas corpus petition, in part because the attorneys hadn’t gotten permission from the 8th Circuit Court to file it.
He likened the filing to a Hail Mary pass.
Lotter, who is raising the same challenge in state court based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a Florida case last year, appealed.
In a one-page judgment July 31, a three-judge 8th Circuit panel said after carefully reviewing the district court file it was denying Lotter’s application for a certificate of appealability.
The court’s permission is required for him to go forward in federal court because he has had at least one prior habeas corpus petition.
Lotter also is appealing a Richardson County District judge’s decision to deny him an evidentiary hearing.
Lotter was sentenced to death for his role in the 1993 killings of Brandon Teena and two witnesses, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine, at a rural Humboldt farmhouse.