LINCOLN — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected, without comment, an appeal from death-row inmate John Lotter, one of two men convicted in the 1993 triple slaying that inspired the movie "Boys Don't Cry."
Lotter, now 40, was sentenced to die for the slayings of 21-year-old Teena Brandon and two other people in a farmhouse near Humboldt, Neb.
Brandon, a Lincoln woman, had moved to Richardson County and was living as a man. Mutual friends introduced Brandon to Lotter and Thomas Nissen, who eventually discovered Brandon's sex.
On Christmas Day 1993, they drove Brandon to a rural area near Falls City and raped her.
Nissen, as part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty, eventually testified that he and Lotter decided to kill Brandon after discovering that Brandon had reported the assault to police.
Lotter has consistently maintained that he was not involved or even present when the murders occurred.
In 2007, Nissen recanted his previous testimony and said he, and not Lotter, had fired the fatal shots.
Lotter has pursued unsuccessful appeals in both state and federal courts.
The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that despite the recanted testimony, there was enough evidence to find Lotter guilty of murder.
The federal appeal, which began in 2004, claimed that Lotter was denied a fair trial, that no physical evidence linked him to the crime scene and that District Judge Robert Finn improperly participated in the plea deal given to Nissen in exchange for his testimony. It also pointed out that Nissen has since changed his story and argued that Lotter should be declared not guilty.
U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf rejected the appeal, ruling that the case had been sufficiently scrutinized by Nebraska courts and that a federal review wasn't warranted.
"The Nebraska courts, and five (or more) zealous defense lawyers, have expended much sweat and treasure insuring that Lotter received a fair trial, a just sentence, a searching appeal and repeated postconviction examinations," Kopf ruled. He wrote that Nebraska should have no "second thoughts" about executing Lotter.
In August, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court also rejected the appeal.
Lotter then took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, on March 19, denied the appeal without comment.
The high court traditionally takes only a small number of such cases on appeal, but a motion to reconsider the ruling in the Lotter case has been filed.
Lotter's attorney, Andre Barry of Lincoln, declined to comment Tuesday. An official with the Nebraska Attorney General's Office said the petition for reconsideration was under review.
The murder of the transgender Brandon drew national attention to the case and spawned a book and the award-winning movie starring Hilary Swank.
Contact the writer: