Bank Slayings

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Testimony has begun in a hearing that challenges the constitutionality of Nebraska's only means of execution, the electric chair.

Madison County District Judge Patrick Rogers presided Monday over the evidentiary hearing in which attorneys for Jose Sandoval and Erick Vela argued that electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment.

Sandoval and Vela are two of the four men found guilty of five counts of murder in the September 26th, 2002, slayings at a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk. Each awaits formal sentencing by a three-judge panel, which includes Rogers.

Customer Evonne Tuttle and bank employees Samuel Sun, Jo Mausbach, Lola Elwood and Lisa Bryant were killed in the robbery attempt.

A second hearing for another one of the defendants, Jorge Galindo, also is scheduled Monday before District Judge Robert Ensz.

A fourth defendant in the case, Gabriel Rodriguez, was already sentenced last week to five consecutive life sentences.