Roderick Nunley pleaded guilty to the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 15-year-old in 1989. The state court judge sentenced him to death. Nunley had argued, before the Eight Circuit, that his capital sentence was a violation of state and federal precedent, since he was sentenced to death without a jury. According to Nunley, state and federal Supreme Court precedent required a jury sentencing for a death penalty to be permissible.
Not so, ruled the Eighth, which found that Nunley had unequivocally waived his right to a jury sentencing when he plead guilty.