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Boys Do Cry: Supreme Ct Denies John Lotter's Death Row Appeal

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 29, 2012 10:03 AM

The United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a Nebraska death row inmate after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the inmate's conviction in August 2011. The defendant was accused of several murders, including the murder of Teena Brandon, the subject of the 1999 film 'Boys Don't Cry.'

Boys don't cry? Well, one "boy" is crying after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal from death row. John Lotter asked the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeal in August 2011. In addition to killing Brandon, Lotter and an accomplice were convicted of killing the witnesses to the murder, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine.

The murders occurred after Brandon reported to authorities that Lotter and his accomplice, Thomas Nissen, had raped her. Nissen agreed to a plea deal from prosecutors, and testified that he had stabbed Brandon but that Lotter had fired the shots that killed her.

Lotter appealed his conviction to a federal district court and the 8th Circuit, raising issues about the fairness of his trial and alleging that there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime scene. The appeal also questioned the propriety of Thomas Nissen's plea deal, arguing that Nissen had recanted his claim that he, not Lotter, had fired the final shots.

In a split decision, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit rejected the appeal last year. On March 19, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Lotter's appeal without comment.

Lotter, who has been on death row since 1996, now awaits execution. Nissen is currently doing life in prison.

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