LINCOLN, Neb. (June 26, 2022 – AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday denied the postconviction appeal of a death row inmate who said his defense attorney was so inept that his right to a fair trial had been compromised.
Roy Ellis Jr., 68, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the 2005 killing of 12-year-old Amber Harris. Amber’s remains were found buried in an Omaha park six months after she went missing from an Omaha school bus stop.
An autopsy showed she died of blunt-force trauma, and DNA on the girl’s book bag, which was found near Ellis’ home, connected him to the crime. At the time, Ellis was a registered sex offender who had raped children and had been categorized by authorities as most likely to re-offend.
Prosecutors presented evidence indicating Harris had likely sexually assaulted the girl before killing her and had Ellis’ former stepdaughters testify at his 2008 murder trial that he repeatedly raped them when they were ages 14 and 12 and had fathered a child with each of them. In his direct appeal, the state Supreme Court rejected Ellis’ argument that the former stepdaughters’ testimony should not have been allowed.
In its ruling Friday, the state’s high court said Ellis’ argument that his trial lawyer failed to effectively challenge prosecutors’ DNA evidence during his trial was without merit.