Death Row Inmate Seeks Release Following U.S. Bank Killings

LINCOLN, Nebraska — Death-row inmate Jorge Galindo is seeking to have his convictions and sentence vacated for his role in the U.S. Bank killings in Norfolk in 2002. This move comes after an unsuccessful attempt to have his case reheard by the Nebraska Supreme Court. The court’s split decision in September affirmed a District Court judge’s decision to deny Galindo postconviction relief without an evidentiary hearing.

Galindo, along with Jose Sandoval and Erick Vela, entered a U.S. Bank branch on September 26, 2002, and fatally shot five people — Lola Elwood, Lisa Bryant, Jo Mausbach, Samuel Sun, and Evonne Tuttle. The three men left the bank empty-handed and were arrested shortly after. Sandoval and Galindo were found guilty at trial, while Vela pleaded guilty.

In a plea for postconviction relief in 2019, Galindo alleged prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. Despite being denied a hearing without evidence, he appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last year.

Galindo’s attorney, Adam Sipple, argued that Galindo should have been granted a hearing to explore allegations that Madison County Attorney Joe Smith had been involved in a criminal drug ring and shielded himself from federal scrutiny by getting participants to testify against Galindo at the sentencing phase.

The majority of the court dismissed these claims, stating that even if proven, the conflict would only amount to harmless error. However, Justice Jonathan Papik disagreed and believed Galindo should be granted an evidentiary hearing on this claim.

Galindo is now seeking federal review of the case, with his attorneys filing a 375-page petition for a writ of habeas corpus, raising 37 claims.

The case of Jorge Galindo sheds light on the complexities and legal challenges surrounding death penalty cases. As the legal battle continues, the families of the victims await justice and closure.