Lawyers: Boys Don't Cry Killer Is Ineligible for Execution

They argue John Lotter has IQ of a child
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2018 7:08 AM CDT
Lawyers Try to Get Boys Don't Cry Killer Off Death Row
This Feb. 21,1996 file photo shows John Lotter, center, being escorted from the Richardson County Courthouse in Falls City, Neb., after being sentenced to death for the December 1993 murders of Teena Brandon, Phillip DeVine and Lisa Lambert, a crime that inspired the movie "Boys Don't Cry."   (AP Photo/St. Joseph News-Press, Eric Keith, file)

Attorneys for a Nebraska death row inmate whose case inspired the 1999 movie Boys Don't Cry say he should be ruled ineligible for execution because he has the intellect of a young child. John Lotter was sentenced to death for his role in the 1993 killings of Brandon Teena, a 21-year-old transgender man played by Hillary Swank in the film, and two witnesses, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine, at a rural farmhouse in Humboldt, about 75 miles south of Omaha. Lotter has spent the last 22 years on death row. Lotter's lawyers filed a motion last week stating that recent IQ testing showed that the 46-year-old is intellectually disabled and therefore can't be put to death under a 2002 US Supreme Court ruling forbidding the execution of the intellectually disabled, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Under Nebraska law, an IQ of 70 or below is presumptive evidence of an intellectual disability. Court records show that Lotter scored a 67 last year, which would be the equivalent IQ of an 8-year-old, reports the AP. Neuropsychologist Ricardo Weinstein determined that Lotter qualifies for an intellectual developmental disability diagnosis after reviewing trial and school records, and interviewing Lotter's mother, foster mother and a psychiatrist who worked with him as a child. Lotter scored an IQ of about 73 when he was 10 years old, according to Weinstein. Richardson County District Judge Vicky Johnson will need to grant an evidentiary hearing in order to consider the issue. If granted, the state can seek its own experts.

(More death penalty stories.)

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