John L. Lotter and Marvin Thomas "Tom" Nissen were convicted of the 1993 murder of Brandon Teena, Lisa Lambert, and Phillip DeVine in Humboldt, Nebraska. Prior to the murders, Lotter and Nissen had beaten and raped Teena, who was a transgender male. Teena reported the rape, and the two sought to kill him for blabbing to the authorities. On December 31, 1993, Lotter and Nissen drove to Lisa Lambert's home and broke in. They then shot Teena, Lambert, and Phillip DeVine, a visitor at the home. Brandon Teena had been dating Lana Tisdel, a friend of Lotter and Nissen, and had recently stirred up conflict between the two and Tisdel's mother Linda for being a trans man and for lying to them. Tom Nissen accused Lotter of comitting the murders in exchange for a reduced sentence, and admitted to being an accessory to the rape and murder. Nissen testified against Lotter and was sentenced to life imprisonment. John Lotter denied the veracity of Nissen's testimony, and his testimony was discredited. The jury found Lotter guilty of murder and he received the death penalty. Both men were portrayed by american actors Peter Sarsgaard and Brendan Sexton III in the Brandon Teena biopic Boys Don't Cry.
Brandon Teana Edit
Teena Renae Brandon (December 12, 1972 - December 31, 1993) was an American trans man, a female to male transgender person, who was raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska.
In 1993, after some trouble with the courts, Teena moved to the Falls City region of Richardson County, Nebraska, where he identified as a man. He became friends with several local residents, including Lisa Lambert, who he moved in with. Teena began dating her friend, 19-year-old Lana Tisdel and began associating with ex-convicts John L. Lotter (born May 31, 1971) and Marvin Thomas "Tom" Nissen (born October 22, 1971).
On December 19, 1993, Teena was arrested for forging checks. Tisdel paid his bail. Because he was in the female section of the jail, Tisdel learned that he was transgender. Upon questioning Teena, he informed Tisdel that he was a hermaphrodite pursuing a sex change operation, and they continued dating. In a lawsuit regarding the film adaptation Boys Don't Cry, this was disputed by Tisdel. Brandon Teena's arrest was posted in the local paper under his birthname and his new friends learned that he was anatomically female.
Sexual Assault and Murder Edit
During a Christmas Eve party, Lotter and Nissen grabbed Teena and forced him to remove his pants, attempting to prove to Tisdel that Teena was anatomically female. Tisdel said nothing and looked away, covering her eyes while doing so. Lotter forced her to look, and she did so only briefly.
Lotter and Nissen later assaulted Teena, and forced him into a car. They drove to an area outside a meat-packing plant in Richardson County, where they assaulted and raped him. Nissen's testimony accounts for the claim that he himself was the first one to rape Teena, while Lotter later claimed in a televised interview that "he couldn't really get it in", but tried anyway. After assaulting and beating him, the pair then drove Teena to Nissen's home where they ordered him to take a shower. Teena escaped from the bathroom by climbing out the window, he then hurried to Tisdel's house. Tisdel's mother Linda Gutierrez convinced Teena to file a police report, though Lotter and Nissen had threatened him not to tell the police about the rape or they would "silence him permanently." Teena was then treated at the emergency room, where a rape kit was assembled, and later lost. Sheriff Charles B. Laux questioned Teena about the rape; reportedly, he seemed especially interested in his transsexuality, to the point where Teena found his questions rude and unecessary, and even refused to answer some of them.
Lotter and Nissen soon learned of the report, and they began to search for Teena. They did not find him, and the police questioned both of them three days later. The sheriff declined to have them arrested due to lack of evidence, something that has garnered controversy since the murders. Around 1:00 AM on December 31, 1993, Lotter and Nissen drove to Lisa Lambert's house in Humboldt, Nebraska and broke in. They found Lambert in bed and demanded to know where Teena was. Lambert refused to tell them, and Nissen began searching the house. He found Teena under the bed. Both men asked Lambert if there was anyone else in the house, to which she replied that Phillip DeVine, who was at the time dating Lana Tisdel's sister, was staying with her. They shot and killed Teena, Lambert, and DeVine, in front of Lambert's toddler, Tanner. Nissen would later testify in court that he noticed Teena was twitching, and asked Lotter for a knife, with which Nissen stabbed him, to ensure that he was dead. Both men then fled the house, and were later arrested and charged with murder.
Brandon Teena (Teena Brandon) is currently buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska, his headstone inscribed with his birthname and his epitaph reading: daughter, sister, & friend.
Tom Nissen accused Lotter of committing the murders. In exchange for a reduced sentence, Nissen admitted to being an accessory to the rape and murder. Nissen testified against Lotter and was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the murder of Brandon Teena. An inmate at the Lincoln Correctional Center in Illinois (where he has been serving his time) later admitted that Nissen secretly told him that it was in fact he who shot both Teena and Lambert, and Lotter who gunned down DeVine, although Nissen later denied such accusations. Lotter proceeded to deny the accuracy of Nissen's testimony, and his testimony was discredited. The jury found Lotter guilty of murder and he received the death penalty. He is currently serving his time at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in Nebraska, awaiting his execution. Lotter and Nissen both appealed their convictions, and their cases have gone to review. In September 2007, Nissen recanted his testimony against Lotter. He claimed he was the only one to shoot Teena and that Lotter had not comitted the murders.
In 2009, Lotter's appeal, using Nissen's new testimony to assert a claim of innocense, was rejected by the Nebraska Supreme Court, which held that since, even under Nissen's revised testimony, both Lotter and Nissen were involved in the murder, leaving the true identity of the shooter legally irrelavant. In August 2011, a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected John Lotter's appeal in split decision. In October 2011, the Eighth Circuit rejected Lotter's request for a hearing by the panel of the full Eighth Circuit en banc. Lotter next petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for a review of this case. The Supreme Court declined to review Lotter's case, denying his petition for writ of certiorari on March 19, 2012, and a further petition for rehearsing on April 23, 2012, leaving his conviction on stand.