Twenty years after five people were killed at Norfolk Bank in one of the deadliest bank killings in U.S. history, the three men who shot them remain on death row with a public appeal and no execution date in sight.
In just 40 seconds on the morning of September 9th. On February 26, 2002, Bank of America branch employees Lola Elwood, Lisa Bryant, Jo Mausbach and Samuel Sun and customer Evonne Tuttle at the counter were shot in the northeastern Nebraska town, the horrific crime was caught on video and in The Nightmare in the accounts of the two surviving employees.
Jose Sandoval came to the front and quickly shot Sun, Tuttle and Mosbach.
Erick Vela and Jorge Galindo walk to the offices on either side, Vela shoots Bryant, Galindo shoots Elwood ) and shot at a customer who started walking in.
After the five died, the three returned empty-handed.
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Police later described the pungent smell of used gunpowder and blood in the air when they arrived.
Within hours, Sandoval, Galindo and Villa would be locked up after they stopped at a McDonald’s in O’Neal, 75 miles away.
But nothing else happened quickly in the case.
The three ended up on death row after being found guilty at trial, Sandoval and Galindo, while Vera went to death row after pleading guilty.
A separate panel of three judges found their crimes deserve the death penalty.
Then there were automatic appeals, all rejected.
But in the years since, legal twists and turns have complicated matters. First, the U.S. Supreme Court decision on how life and death are determined. Then Nebraska lawmakers repealed the death penalty in 2015, and voters reinstated it the following year.
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Lawyers argue that everyone on the state’s death row has had their sentences commuted to life. They also raised many other issues, which they argued should lead to new trials or life sentences, not the death penalty.
In March 2019, the state responded to Sandoval’s case, arguing that the district judge should deny his motion for post-conviction relief without a hearing.
“The case files and records affirmatively show that the defendants are not entitled to relief,” Attorney General James Smith wrote.
But court records show that in the three and a half years since the petition was filed, Fremont District Judge Jeffrey C. Hall has yet to issue a ruling.
In Vela’s case, his attorney, Jerry Hug, told a federal court judge in May that he expected progress in the state court proceedings, “but understands that the state court record in the petitioner’s death penalty case is extensive and has to take a lot of time. Collection, review and organization. Briefings, filings and state court decisions will require additional time.
Hug also cited a number of post-conviction cases pending before the Nebraska Supreme Court, including Galindo’s case.
Amid all the arguments on Jan. 1, Galindo’s attorney, Adam Sipple, tried to convince the judge that the district court judge was wrong in refusing to hold a hearing on the motion for post-conviction relief.
In a 138-page motion filed in 2019, he detailed a range of issues, including the state’s last-minute disclosure that it would provide evidence that Galindo was allegedly involved in the death of 21-year-old Travis Lundell, who He had gone missing a month before a bank robbery to seek a death sentence.
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“When Mr. Galindo’s sentencing case was assessed and assessed under the law and the Constitution, his youth, his confession, his cooperation and the remorse he showed provided a strong case against him from execution, “Sipple said.
He said there were two big issues that could lead to a life sentence if the sentencing team knew. One, his trial lawyers offered no evidence of remorse. Second, he failed to argue that Galindo’s youth was a mitigating factor.
Spur said defense attorneys at the sentencing left sworn testimony in his file, including a prison captain who told a defense investigator that Galindo expressed to him and another prison deputy. Remorse, a teacher’s testimony said he was immature and easily influenced by others.
He also raised the question of the Nebraska Patrol’s criminal investigation of Chief Attorney Madison County Attorney Joe Smith, “including his ties to drug dealing suspects, who he called a prison line targeting Galindo. people.”
But Justice Jonathan Papik said that even if they found trial lawyers to be flawed and the panel should not consider Lendl an aggravated crime, “Shouldn’t we be asking ‘OK, is there bias?'”
He asked whether there was a reasonable chance the results would have been different.
Sipple agreed, but said the allegations raised legitimate issues requiring an evidentiary hearing, which would lead to the findings.
On the other hand, Attorney General James Smith said that even if the sentencing panel did not consider Rendale’s evidence, and had considered Galindo’s youth and remorse, it was not enough to outweigh all aggravating circumstances.
“In short, if you kill five innocent people and say, ‘Oops, I shouldn’t have been sentenced to death because I really didn’t kill the sixth,’ that doesn’t really show that the bias error in the sentence will prove A futile evidentiary hearing is justified,” he argued.
The Supreme Court has yet to make a decision.
Norfolk Mayor Josh Mourning did not live there in September. February 25, 2002.
“But as a local in the area, I vividly remember the shock and confusion I experienced when I heard the news,” he told The Star on Friday.
Mourning called it an unimaginable horror that sent shockwaves throughout the community and across the state.
“Norfolk responded by scoring, though,” he said. “The community immediately embraced the victims’ families, supported their needs, and recognized the importance of respecting the legacy of their loved ones.
“Ultimately created a place of comfort and peace for these heinous crimes—a natural landmark that, to this day, welcomes travelers on U.S. Route 81 with a profound message: Love and community are always better than hate and Violence lasts longer.”
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