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Thread: Erick (aka Eric) Fernando Vela - Nebraska Death Row

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Erick (aka Eric) Fernando Vela - Nebraska Death Row

    Summary of Offense:

    Convicted for his role in the 2002 Norfolk bank murders that left five people dead. On the morning of September 26, 2002, Jose Sandoval, Erick Vela and Jorge Galindo entered a bank located in Norfolk, Nebraska. In less than a minute, they shot and fatally wounded four bank employees and one customer: Lola Elwood, Samuel Sun, Lisa Bryant, Jo Mausbach and Evonne Tuttle.

    For more on Sandoval, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...aska-Death-Row

    For more on Galindo, see: http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/...=jorge+galindo

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    April 4, 2008

    OMAHA (AP) — An attorney for one of the men convicted of murder in the Norfolk bank killings has asked the Nebraska Supreme Court to change his death sentence to life imprisonment.

    Jeffery Pickens of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy filed the brief Monday on behalf of Erick Vela, who pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 26, 2002, killings at a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk. Vela was sentenced to death in 2007.

    The state Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year that electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment eliminated the state’s sole means of execution.

    “There’s no method for carrying out the sentence of death,’’ Pickens said Friday. “If there’s no method of carrying out the sentence of death, what’s the point of having a death sentence?’’

    The state’s lack of a constitutional execution method was one of 16 arguments Pickens made in the 120-page appeal.

    Pickens said Vela and the nine other men on Nebraska’s death row are left waiting for state lawmakers to enact a new method of execution.

    “Who knows how long that could last?’’ he asked.

    Attorney General Jon Bruning said he wasn’t surprised by Vela’s motion for re-sentencing, but didn’t think it would be successful.

    “The Supreme Court was very clear in its decision that it was overturning the method of execution but not the death penalty,’’ he said. “So, Mr. Vela remains sentenced to death, and when the Legislature passes a law instituting a new method of execution, his sentence will be carried out.’’

    Bruning said he believes Vela is the first death row inmate to ask for a new sentence since the court’s ruling.

    Gov. Dave Heineman has urged state lawmakers to enact a new means of execution, but the Legislative session ends this month. Heineman has not decided whether to call a special session or put the issue on hold until next year.

    Pickens also argued in the court filing that Vela shouldn’t have been sentenced to death to begin with.

    Nebraska’s death penalty was invalid for a short time in 2002 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, must decide whether execution is appropriate. A special session of the Legislature was called that year to make the changes needed to reinstate the state’s death penalty, but the Norfolk murders were committed during the period when the death penalty was invalid.

    Pickens said the death penalty was reinstated because of the Norfolk murders and was used retroactively against Vela.

    Pickens also said Vela should not have been sentenced to death because he is mentally retarded and, under state law, not eligible for the death penalty.

    During a four-day hearing in 2006, Pickens said his client functions at a fifth-grade level and was forced to participate in the plot. But a district judge ruled Vela is not mentally impaired and could face the death penalty.

    Vela, Jose Sandoval, Jorge Galindo and Gabriel Rodriguez were convicted of killing Lisa Bryant, Lola Elwood, Jo Mausbach, Sam Sun and Evonne Tuttle in the Norfolk bank branch.

    Vela, Sandoval and Galindo were each sentenced to five death sentences. Rodriguez, who acted as a lookout, was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences.

  3. #3
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Inmate Personal Information

    Race: Hispanic
    Gender: Male
    Date of Birth: 10/10/1980

    Crime and Trial Information

    * County of conviction: Hall
    * Number of counts: Five
    * Race of Victims: All White
    * Gender of Victims: 4 Female/1 Male
    * Date of crime: 09/26/2002
    * Date of Sentencing: 01/14/2005

    Legal Status

    Current Proceedings:


    On direct appeal:
    James Mowbray
    Jeffrey Pickens
    Jerry Soucie
    Mark Albin

    Court Opinions

    State v. Vela, 721 N.W.2d 631 (Neb. 2006) (dismissing interlocutory
    appeal from Madison County District Court's order overruling
    defendant's motion to preclude imposition of death sentence
    because of mental retardation); State v. Vela, 777 N.W.2d 266 (Neb.
    2010) (affirming convictions and sentence), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct.
    3364 (2010).

    Legal Issues

    On direct appeal:
    1. whether the amendment requiring that a jury determine the
    existence of aggravating circumstances constituted improper ex post
    facto legislation as applied to murders committed before statute's
    enactment and after United States Supreme Court decision in Ring v.
    2. whether the State was constitutionally required to provide
    defendant with notice as to which aggravating circumstances it would
    3. whether the codefendants' actions could be considered in
    determining the existence of aggravating circumstances;

  4. #4
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Bank shooter in court for hearing

    Erick Vela was back in a Madison County District courtroom here Monday afternoon.

    Dressed in an orange state-issued jumpsuit, with his hands shackled, Vela listened while Pat Carney and Joe Smith made their cases before Judge James Kube.

    Carney's goal was to convince Kube that mistakes had been made in Vela's defense that warranted an evidentiary hearing, which could lead to a new trial or some other "post-conviction relief."

    Madison County Attorney Joe Smith claimed just the opposite.

    Vela is one of four men convicted in the shooting deaths of four employees and a customer during a botched bank robbery at a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk on Sept. 26, 2002. In less than 50 seconds, Vela, Jose Sandoval and Jorge Galindo came and left the bank, having taken no money but leaving five people dead.

    Police caught the three in O'Neill within hours of the murders. A fourth man, Gabriel Rodriguez, later was convicted for his role as look-out and getaway driver.

    Bank employees Jo Mausbach, Sam Sun, Lola Elwood and Lisa Bryant and customer Evonne Tuttle died.

    Vela is on death row at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

    Vela, through Carney, claimed that his original defense attorneys "persuaded" him to not plead early on and that if he would have, his sentence could have been different.

    Kube questioned Carney, wondering if the Vela's lawyers simply wanted to make sure that all of the evidence was gathered before Vela pleaded one way or the other.

    "I think in a case like this the primary concern is to avoid the death penalty," Carney said. "The fact that he wanted to plead and was not allowed to plead impacts a number of these factors."

    Among the many issues cited in the 35-page motion was that of a jury member who Carney said had a relationship with the prosecuting attorney, and that the juror had not made the attorneys aware of that at the time the jury was selected.

    Carney also brought up a statement made by one of the doctors who testified who said the victims had experienced horrible suffering and mental anguish.

    "There is no evidence that the victims were conscience," Carney said. "Those comments have a profound effect on the jury."

    Carney also questioned the status of the death penalty at the time. In addition, he said the state's current lack of a "protocol" for lethal injection inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on his client.

    Smith spent two hours dissecting Carney's claims, supporting his arguments with examples from past legal cases, which he displayed using a 120-page PowerPoint presentation.

    Smith discounted Carneys notion that Vela was at any time remorseful. Smith said Vela had said and did things that indicated just the opposite.

    For instance, Vela once said his signature would be worth money if he was sentenced to death, Smith said.

    Vela also made the statement that the last thing Lisa Bryant saw was his face, Smith said.

    Smith also argued against the notion that one of the jurors was questionable. Instead, he said all of the proper procedures had been followed, and all of the jurors had indicated they could be fair and impartial.

    After three hours, Smith "urged the court to rule in favor of the state and deny a new trial."

    Carney, on the other hand, said there were "some issues that warrant an evidentiary hearing."

    Kube took the matter under advisement and will have a ruling later.

    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

  5. #5
    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    New Jersey, unfortunately
    No death-penalty appeal for man convicted in 2002 Norfolk bank robbery

    LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected the death-penalty appeal of one of the men convicted of the fatal shootings of five people in a Norfolk bank.

    Erick Vela claimed he received ineffective representation after he was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the 2002 botched robbery of a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk. He filed a post-conviction motion seeking a hearing to present evidence in support of his claims, with the ultimate goal of having his sentence reduced to life in prison.

    Last year, Madison County District Judge James Kube rejected Vela’s claims and denied the motion for an evidentiary hearing. On Friday, a unanimous Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision.

    Vela is one of three gunmen convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of four employees and a customer at the bank. Killed were employees Jo Mausbach, Sam Sun, Lola Elwood and Lisa Bryant and customer Evonne Tuttle.

    Also on death row for the killings are Jose Sandoval and Jorge Galindo. Francisco Rodriguez was sentenced to life in prison for serving as the lookout.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Bank Murderers Want Resentencing in Death Penalty Case

    By Rachel Urbanski
    The Sand Hills Express

    MADISON, NE — Two men lined up on Nebraska’s death row believe they don’t deserve the death penalty.

    Jose Sandoval, the ringleader in a 2002 failed robbery in Norfolk that left five dead, filed a motion for post conviction relief Monday evening. One of his partners in crime, Erick Vela filed the same motion.

    Their attorneys argue in court documents that they were effectively resentenced to life in prison as opposed to death when the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 268 in 2015, which repealed the death penalty. Their attorneys say resentencing them to death now, without a trial, is a violation of their constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

    Madison County Attorney Joe Smith says, “The theory they have is that at the time they committed the crimes there was a death penalty statute, and the time they were sentenced there was a death penalty statue. The legislature, perhaps attempted to repeal the death penalty and was unsuccessful and the voters had a election. As I read into the theory it’s that thats analogous to the defendants being sentenced to death, being sentenced to life and resentenced to death without a hearing.”

    Sandoval was sentenced in 2002 for the murders of five people at the U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk. His other two accomplices, including Vela are on death row.

    His convictions were upheld by the Nebraska Supreme Court and again in 2011 when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his petition for review.

    Smith says they usually file a response within 60 days of post conviction but in this case it will be filed a whole lot faster.


  7. #7
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    On March 27, 2018, Vela filed a habeas petition in Federal District Court.


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