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Norfolk bank killer wants death sentence overturned

Norfolk bank killer wants death sentence overturned
Courtesy photo/Nebraska Department of Corrections -- Erick Vela

Lincoln, Neb.  — One of four men convicted in a deadly Norfolk bank shooting wants a federal court to overturn his death sentence.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that 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.

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