'Boys Don't Cry' inmate recants story


LINCOLN, Neb. -- One of two men convicted in the 1993 murder of Teena Brandon and two others that spawned the movie "Boys Don't Cry" now says he was the only attacker who shot and stabbed them.

Marvin Nissen's new account that he was the lone killer could reignite a case that drew national attention to the issues of transgendered people.

The man Nissen once blamed for the killings, John Lotter, is now on death row and has asked for a new trial.

Brandon was born a female but for a time lived as a man in rural southeast Nebraska. Prosecutors said the 21-year-old was killed in a farmhouse near Humboldt after reporting being raped by Lotter and Nissen. During the trial, Nissen said he had stabbed Brandon but that Lotter fired all the shots that killed Brandon and the others.

"He has finally admitted that the testimony that secured John Lotter's conviction was all a lie," Lotter attorney Paula Hutchinson said Thursday.

Lotter has maintained since his arrest that he is innocent.

Nissen, who is serving a life sentence, made the admission in a sworn affidavit now being used in Lotter's motion.

"I am the person who shot and stabbed Teena Brandon. I am the person who shot Philip Devine. I am the person who shot Lisa Lambert," Nissen says in the affidavit. He says that to avoid the death penalty, he initially testified that Lotter pulled the trigger.

Hutchinson said that the double-jeopardy rule against trying people for the same crime twice will likely keep Nissen from being tried again and possibly receiving a death sentence. Lotter is seeking complete exoneration, saying he had no role in the crime.

According to a July report from Nissen's mental health counselor, Nissen described himself as the "trigger man" in the murders and told the counselor that "the idea for the murders was initially Lotter's idea" but "Lotter's gun jammed and Nissen proceeded to shoot all three victims."

"Nissen said that he did not have any problem admitting to the murders, but ... wanted Lotter to acknowledge his, Lotter's, involvement with the crime," the report says.

Brandon's mother said Thursday that she doesn't know what to believe anymore.

"I'm confused. I don't understand if Nissen did it or Lotter did it," Joann Brandon said. "I would've bet money on Lotter. He just looked so guilty."