Inmate's Appeal Turned Down

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A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling denying a death row inmate's claims that his attorney didn't do a good job and that his Rankin County jury shouldn't have been told about a previous rape conviction.

John B. Nixon, Sr., appealed to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans after a federal judge in Jackson denied Nixon's claims in 1998 and 2002.

The Fifth Circuit ruled this past week that Nixon's claim of ineffective counsel involved only disagreement over courtroom strategy. And the appeals court said the evidence against Nixon was so overwhelming that the introduction of the rape conviction was a minor issue for consideration by the jury.

Nixon, a former Utica auto repairman, was convicted of capital murder in the 1985 murder-for-hire of Virginia Tucker, 45, in her Brandon home. Tucker's ex-husband, Elester Joseph Ponthieux of Raymond, is serving a life sentence for hiring Nixon to kill her.

Virginia Tucker's husband, Thomas, was wounded and identified Nixon as the attacker. Two of Nixon's sons and a friend were also convicted in the killing.