Jeffrey Hessler – white, age 25
Sentenced to death in Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska
By: A three-judge panel after a jury found aggravating circumstances
Date of crime: 2/11/2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hessler raped and killed 15-year-old Heather Guerrero execution style after he kidnapped her at the end of her paper route. Her body was found in the basement of an abandoned home. After he was arrested for the Guerrerro case, Hessler was convicted of raping another papergirl in a nearby city six months earlier. Hessler had confessed to authorities that he killed Guerrero to silence her about the sexual assault. During trial Hessler said the two had consensual sex and the shooting was a mistake. Hessler dismissed his attorneys before the sentencing phase of his trial and he submitted a statement to the court saying he deserved to die and he asked for a death sentence.
Prosecutor(s): Doug Warner
Defense lawyer(s): Jim Mowbray at guilt/innocent phase; Defendant represented himself at the penalty phase.
Sources: Omaha World Herald 12/8/04 (2004 WLNR 60581188), 12/9/2004 (2004 WLNR 60581309), 12/10/04 (2004 WLNR 60581488), 12/26/04 (2004 WLNR 60583535), 5/16/05 (2005 WLNR 7738171), 5/17/05 (2005 WLNR7801391).
Jose Sandoval – Latino, age 23
Sentenced to death in Madison County, Nebraska
By: A panel of 3 judges
Date of crime: 9/26/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: During a bank robbery, Sandoval and his cohorts shot and killed four bank employees and one bank customer. The prosecution presented evidence that Sandoval was a member of the Latin Kings gang, planned the robbery, and shot three of the five victims. During the penalty phase the defense presented evidence of a troubled childhood and drug use at the time of the robbery.
Prosecutor(s): Joe Smith Defense lawyer(s): Todd Lancaster (resigned his position before the penalty phase), Harry Moore
Sources: Omaha World-Herald 9/17/2004, 12/14/2004, 12/13/2004, 12/22/2004, 1/15/2005