Death row inmate Jeff Hessler of Gering, convicted in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Gering teenager and newspaper carrier Heather Guerrero, took his latest appeal effort to the Nebraska Supreme Court today.
Hessler is trying to get Scotts Bluff County District Judge Randy Lippstreu rejection of his motion for postconviction relief overturned. Lippstreu said last year the 36 year old Hessler failed to demonstrate his contention that he was mentally incompetent to plea no-contest.
Hessler’s attorneys maintain his trial counsel performed ineffectively by advising him to plead no-contest, failed to discover and present mitigating evidence at sentencing and failed to advise him to appeal.
Lippstreu said the evidence showed the trial counsel acted reasonably confronted with overwhelming evidence of guilt and were consistent with Hessler’s desire to admit to the sexual assault in the case. Lippstreu also said Hessler’s attorneys provided no evidence he ever asked his attorneys to appeal his conviction and sentence.
In addition to the death sentence Hessler is serving a 30-to-42 year prison sentence after pleading no-contest to a charge of 1st Degree Sexual Assault of a Minor.