GERING, Neb. (AP) – A western Nebraska man who killed a 15-year-old newspaper carrier in 2003 has filed an appeal challenging his death sentence.
Attorneys for 37-year-old Jeffrey Hessler argue that his sentence should be thrown out because a panel of judges – not a jury – decided he should be executed.
Hessler was convicted in 2004 of kidnapping, raping and killing Heather Guerrero, of Gering.
The Nebraska Supreme Court has already upheld Hessler’s conviction in a previous appeal.
Hessler’s attorney argues that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Florida case from earlier this year should apply to Hessler’s case.
Under Nebraska’s system, a jury decided aggravating factors were present before a panel of judges sentenced Hessler.
State Attorney General spokeswoman Suzanne Gage says prosecutors expect to defeat Hessler’s appeal.