LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected another appeal of Gregory Fester, serving two life terms for the 2006 slayings of a rural Murdock couple.
Fester, 26, claimed his attorney was ineffective for telling him he would be sentenced to a maximum of 35 years for the shotgun murders of Wayne and Sharmon Stock.
Had he known he could be sentenced to life, Fester said he would not have taken a plea deal from the prosecutor that allowed Fester to plead guilty to lesser charges of second-degree murder.
But the high court said Friday that the district court judge clearly informed Fester about the possible sentence of 20 years to life in prison for second-degree murder. In addition, Fester read the written agreement, initialed each page and signed it.
Omaha defense attorney Alan Stoler, who represented Fester, denied that he said the plea deal would result in a lesser sentence. If Fester had been convicted of first-degree murder, he would have faced a possible death sentence.
“We agree with the district court that the evidence establishes that Fester's counsel did not perform deficiently in this respect and therefore did not provide Fester ineffective assistance of counsel,” Judge Kenneth Stephan wrote in the opinion.
Two days after leaving Wisconsin to embark on a crime spree, Fester, 19, and his girlfriend, Jessica Reid, 17, broke into the Stocks' home in the middle of the night. Armed with shotguns, the teenagers gunned down the couple in their bedroom.
Investigators initially arrested two other men, Matthew Livers and Nick Sampson, for the killings. Livers confessed after a coercive, 11-hour police interview but recanted the next day.
To help shore up a weak case, David Kofoed, the head of the Douglas County CSI unit, planted blood evidence in a car used by the men. The botched investigations led to federal civil rights lawsuits, which the state recently settled for $2.6 million.
The high court had previously rejected appeals by Fester and Reid that their sentences were excessive.