Nelson v. United States, No. 15-3160 (8th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
In 2001, Nelson pled guilty to the kidnapping and unlawful interstate transportation of Pamela for the purpose of sexual abuse which resulted in her death. The government dropped a charge traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in a sex act with a female under the age of 12 which resulted in death. Days later, Nelson attempted suicide by ingesting prescription medicine. The penalty phase jury returned a death penalty verdict. The court allowed Nelson to address the court. Nelson, showing no remorse, blistered the court and the victim’s family with a profanity-laden tirade. The court imposed the death sentence. The Eighth Circuit affirmed; the Supreme Court denied certiorari. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the rejection of Nelson’s 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion. The jury heard substantial mitigating evidence and there was no reasonable probability that its death sentence verdict would have been different if the evidence produced at the habeas evidentiary hearing had been introduced during the penalty phase, so the district court did not err in denying Nelson's ineffective assistance of counsel claims concerning failure to conduct an adequate mitigation investigation, failure to adequately investigate his mental health and failure to advise Nelson to decline to submit to a mental health exam by a government examiner.