The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, August 30, 1994, Image 1

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    Inside Tuesday
Sports
■ Coaches discuss Big 12 playoff, Page 7
Arts & Entertainment
■ Review: New restaurant In Haymarket, Page 9
PAGE 2: Plans for Haiti intervention continue
August 30, 1994
Many question Otey’s scheduled execution
No legal grounds
to base appeal on,
state’s brief says
By Brian Sharp
Senior Reporter
Harold Lamont Otey has no legal grounds on
which to base his recent civil rights appeal,
according to a brief filed by the state in the
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday.
The state’s brief, filed with the 8th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that Otey is
further attempting to stall the carrying out of a
legitimate criminal judgment by arguing that the
I
Board of Pardons gave him an unfair clemency
hearing.
“In urging his theories upon this court, Olcy
does not seek to serve the interests of justice,
comity or federalism. He simply seeks the only
effective refuge he has found from assuming
responsibility for his criminal acts. He seeks yet
another day in court,” states the brief signed by
Assistant Attorney General Kirk Brown and
approved by Attorney General Don Stenbcrg.
Otcy, 43, was convicted in the 1977 rape and
murder of Omahan Jane McManus. His Sept. 2
execution would be the first in Nebraska in 35
years.
The appeal will be argued Tuesday afternoon
See OTEY on 6
Church groups line
sidewalks outside
Governor’s Mansion
By Brian Sharp
Senior Reporter
“Why do we kill people to show that killing
people is wrong?”
That question was on a button worn by
Lauren Edahl.
It’s a question he wants answered.
Edahl, senior pastor ofTrinity United Method
ist Church, attended a vigil in front of the Gover
nor’s Mansion Monday afternoon. He was joined
Damon Lee/DN
Nelson Potter, a professor of philosophy at UNL, has tutored death-row inmate Harold Lamont Otey for nine years.
Potter describee! Otey as a friendly, engaging man who was eager to study and learn.
Friend to the end
Professor to mourn if Otey executed
By Matthew Waite
Senior Reporter
I fHarold LamontOtcy iscxccutcd as sched
uled Friday, Nelson Potter will lose a friend.
Potter, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln
philosophy professor, has been tutoring the
convicted murderer in logic for nine years.
During that time, he has made a friend.
“He’s a very engaging person — easy to
talk to,” Potter said of his student. “Last
week, the (Omaha) World-Herald described
him as a monster, and that is so out of keeping
with the person I know."
Oley was convicted lor the 1977 rape and
murder of Jane McManusofOmaha. His Sept.
2 execution would be the first in Nebraska in
35 years.
Potter, who teaches a philosophy of law
class that discusses the death penalty, was
first contacted 11 years ago about a program
for a group of death-row inmates who wanted
to learn philosophy. Eventually, the group
dwindled to just Otey, Potter said.
A graduate student from Italy was the only
person interested in teaching the inmates.
The student graduated and moved on but had
kept in touch with Otey, Potter said.
Potter said he then stepped in.
Throughout Oley’s studies, Potter said the
inmate had been a dedicated student. Otey
never wanted to skip a single logic problem
in his bi-monthly lessons. Potter said. The
lessons have covered most of two textbooks.
Most UNL students finish one-third of a
textbook, he said.
Potter said his conversations with Otey
were not reserved to logic. He said they
talked about Otey’s life, philosophy, litera
ture and Otcy’s poetry.
“He’s read quite widely,” Potter said.
“He’s reading about Huey Newton, who was
a black liberation figure from the early ’70s.”
Potter said they also had talked about the
McManus murder.
“He says he did not do the killing that he
was convicted of,” Potter said.
Potter said one only had to tal k to Otey and
get to know him on a personal level to real izc
that he was not someone to be feared.
“You’re just talking to this human being,”
he said. “One of the things I fault the Gover
nor (Ben Nelson) and the Attorney General
(Don Stenberg) on ... is they never had the
courage to meet Otey face to face.”
Not all death-row inmates are against the
death penalty. Potter said, as some would
expect.
See POTTER on 3
by more than 35 people from various churches, the
Urban League and the Civil Liberties Union to
protest the execution of Harold Lamont Otey,
scheduled for Friday.
Otey was convicted of the 1977 rape and
murder of Omahan Jane McManus. He issched
ulcd to die at 12:01 a.m. Friday in the electric
chair.*
“(An execution) is something that gets right
to the core of who we arc as human beings,”
Edahl said at the rally. “It is important that he
(Gov. Ben Nelson) understand the position that
he is in.”
Edahl, like many other protestors, brought
letters from their respective churches, stating the
church’s position against the death penalty.
See PETITION on 6
Open flames
now against
halls’ policy
By John Fulwider
Staff Reporter
A new residence hall policy has taken the
spark out of some students’ lives. Or at least the
open flames.
The policy prohibits the unauthorized use of
candles, incense, hot plates, toasters, toaster
ovens, grills or any items that use open llamcs or
have exposed heating elements.
Lesley Esters, coordinator for residence hall
administration, said a group of residence hall
directors decided to create the policy because
use of candles and other items was becoming a
safety hazard.
Candles left unattended in residence hall
rooms caused three fires last year, she said. The
fires occurred in Abel and Schramm residence
halls and resulted in about $2,500 worth of
damage.
Esters said the new pol icy would not apply to
smoking.
See POLICY on 3
Endacott denies
requests made
by Bjorklund
By Angie Schendt
Staff Reporter
A judge ruled Monday that Roger Bjorklund
could not take a polygraph lest in connection to the
string of Lincoln robberies with which he is
charged.
Lancaster County Judge Donald Endacott de
nied Monday two of four motions Bjorklund filed
about the robbery charges.
Bjorklund requested a polygraph test to prove
that he was coerced to give statements about the
robberies to law enforcement agencies. He was
convicted in the 1992 murder of University of
Nebraska-Lincoln studcntCandicc Harms. Seven
counts of robbery are still pending against
Bjorklund.
Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Patrick
Condon objected to the lie-det6ctor lest, saying
that polygraph results are not admissible in Ne
braska courtrooms.
Bjorklund, acting as his own attorney with
assistance fromChielTublic DefenderScott Helvie,
said he wanted the polygraph for a hearing, not a
trial. Polygraph evidence is admissible in a hear
ing, Bjorklund said.
Endacott also denied Bjorklund’s request fora
change in venue for the robbery trial. Endacott
allowed a 12-tnember jury to be selected from
Sidney for Bjorklund’s four-week murder trial
last fall.
See BJORKLUND on 3