Nebraska Supreme Court

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected a post-conviction appeal of a man who killed two Brazilian missionaries and their 7-year-old son over a money dispute in Omaha 10 years ago.

The high court on Friday upheld a lower court's rejection without an evidentiary hearing of the post-conviction appeal of Jose Oliveira-Coutinho. Oliveira-Coutinho had argued some 50 claims in an effort to show his attorney was ineffective.

Oliveira-Coutinho was one of three Brazilian men charged with killing Vanderlei Szczepanik, his wife, Jacqueline, and their son, Christopher. Prosecutors said Oliveira-Coutinho and two others beat to death Szczepanik, who had hired the men for a renovation project, and hanged his wife and son before throwing their bodies in the Missouri River. Oliveira-Coutinho was convicted of three first-degree murder counts and sentenced to three life terms in prison.

Valdeir Goncalves-Santos was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role. The third man was deported to Brazil before he could be charged.

In other news

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The lethal injection protocol that was used to execute a Nebraska prisoner last year has survived a legal challenge from death penalty opponents who had hoped to overturn it to prevent the state from carrying out capital punishment.