Scottsbluff man loses his appeal on first degree murder charge

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LINCOLN, Neb. - (KNEP) - A Scottsbluff man convicted of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony loses his appeal in front of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

According to court records, back in 2016 officers were called to an apartment complex by Lucio Munoz. He told officers that his girlfriend had been raped. Upon speaking to the alleged victim, she told police she didn’t know why they were called and that she didn’t want to make a police report.

Later that night, Munoz contacted his son and said that he did something bad and he wanted to kill himself. Officers were again called to the apartment where Munoz told officers his girlfriend went home. Officers advised Munoz to go to the hospital which he complied in doing.

The next morning, Munoz’ son picked him up from the hospital and brought him back to his house. Sometime during the morning they made arrangements for Munoz to leave town. He explained to his son that he wanted to go to one of his brothers.

A friend of Munoz agreed to take him to Illinois to see one of his brothers. Meanwhile a neighbor at the apartment complex became worried that they hadn’t seen Munoz or his girlfriend in a couple of days. After the property manager was able to unlock the door, Melissa May’s body was discovered lying in bed with the same clothes she had on the night officers stopped by. She suffered 37 stab wounds.

Officers with the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office flew out to Illinois to pick up Munoz.

During a jury trial, Munoz was found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison for the first degree murder charge and 20 to 40 years for the use of a weapon charge.

In front of the Nebraska Supreme Court, Munoz appealed on grounds that that prosecutorial misconduct was committed during opening statements, that there was an error when his son invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and that he was given ineffective assistance from trial counsel.

The highest court in Nebraska heard all of the evidence and found no plain error in regards to the prosecutor’s opening statements or the invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege in the jury’s presence. They also concluded that the record on appeal shows the claims to be without merit in terms of Munoz’ counsel. The Nebraska Supreme Court thereby affirmed the district court’s ruling.