LILBURN, Ga. -- The Georgia Supreme Court has reversed a lower court's ruling and reinstated the death penalty for the man convicted of a 1993 murder.
The high court's decision for Michael Wade Nance was released Monday.
The chain of events leading up to the Dec. 18, 1993 murder began with a bank robbery. According to information presented in court, Nance stole a car and drove it to the Tucker Federal Bank in Lilburn, which he robbed at gunpoint.
The bank teller slipped two dye packs into the cash she gave Nance. The packs exploded inside the car, emitting red dye and tear gas. Nance abandoned the car and ran across Indian Trail Road to a package store, where Gabor Balogh was backing his car out of a parking space.
A witness said Nance yanked open Balogh's car door and shot him in the left elbow. The bullet ricocheted into Balogh's chest, hit his heart and lodged in his liver. He died at the scene.
Nance fired a shot at the witness, which missed, and then ran to a nearby gas station and held an hour-long police standoff before surrendering.
At Nance's original trial, prosecutors argued that he had robbed another Gwinnett County bank three months earlier and had also been convicted of armed robbery in Kansas in 1984. In September 1997, he was convicted of malice murder and aggravated assault, among other charges, and was sentenced to death.
Nance's death sentence was first reversed in February 2000, when the Georgia Supreme Court found that a juror who should have been excused was instead selected for the trial. The death sentenced was reinstated in 2002, but Nance appealed to the high court in March 2007, arguing that his trial attorneys failed to present certain evidence in his favor, such as his developmental delays, learning difficulties and history of drug abuse.
In Monday's opinion, a Supreme Court justice wrote that "there is no reasonable probability that the outcome would have been different" even if Nance's lawyers had referred to his "low average intelligence" during trial.