Norfolk Bank Killer Wants Death Sentence Overturned

Norfolk Bank Killer Wants Death Sentence Overturned
In this Nov. 20, 2004, photo, death-row inmate Erick Vela, one of three men sentenced to death for killing five people at a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk, Neb., on Sept. 26, 2002, speaks during an interview at the Lincoln Correctional Center awaiting sentencing. The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday, July 21, 2017, rejected a postconviction appeal by Vela. (Eric Gregory/The Journal-Star via AP)

LINCOLN (AP) — One of four men convicted in a deadly Norfolk bank shooting wants a federal court to overturn his death sentence.

Lawyers for 37-year-old Erick Vela filed the appeal Tuesday. It argues in part that he’s intellectually disabled and that executing him would violate his Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Vela pleaded guilty in June 2003. Vela and two other men were sentenced to death for the five slayings at a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk on Sept. 26, 2002. A fourth man who served as a lookout was sentenced to five life sentences.

Last July the Nebraska Supreme Court rejected Vela’s attempt to have his murder convictions overturned. In that appeal he’d said the lawyer defending him was incompetent.

Another man convicted in the killings, Jose Sandoval, is the first Nebraska death row inmate in line for execution.  He has been informed of the drugs that will be used in his lethal injection.  The ACLU has file multiple lawsuits attempting to prevent or delay the execution.

Nebraska last executed an inmate in 1997.

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