Arthur Gales was sentenced to death by the State of Nebraska for the murder of two children. According to court documents was over at the victims home when he would leave the apartment with the mother who would be severely beaten. Arthur Gales realizing the children could identify him as being with their mother would return to the apartment where he sexually assaulted the thirteen year old girl before killing her by strangulation. Arthur Gales would also kill a seven year old boy by drowning and strangulation. When police found the mother severely beaten on the street they would return to her home where they found the bodies of the two children. Arthur Gales would be arrested, convicted on both murders and sentenced to death.
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Evidence at trial revealed that Gales had been at Judy’s apartment in Omaha, Nebraska, on November 11, 2000, with Judy and her children, Latara and Tramar. Judy was found near 15th and Grace Streets in Omaha on the morning of November 12. She had been severely beaten. After Judy was identified, police went to Judy’s apartment to check on the children and discovered 13-year-old Latara’s body, nude from the waist down, in a bedroom. Seven-year-old Tramar’s body was found lying in a bathtub. Autopsies indicated that Latara was killed by manual strangulation and that Tramar died from drowning and manual strangulation. The pathologist testified that each child had suffered at least 4 minutes of compression of the neck before death. Latara had been sexually assaulted.
The State’s theory of the case was that Gales and Judy left Judy’s children at her apartment on the evening of November 11, 2000, and that Gales later severely beat Judy and left her for dead. The State contended that Gales realized the children were potential witnesses who could place him with Judy that evening; therefore, he went back to the apartment and killed them. The State presented DNA evidence which linked Gales to both crime scenes and excluded other potential suspects. The DNA evidence particularly linked Gales to the sexual assault of Latara. Gales did not testify or offer evidence at trial and did not dispute the State’s general theory of how the children were killed; instead, his defense was that he was not the person who assaulted Judy and killed the children. However, Gales is not, for purposes of this appeal, challenging the factual basis for his convictions.
On August 27, 2001, the jury returned a verdict finding Gales guilty of two counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted second degree murder. A sentencing hearing was conducted by the judge who presided over the trial. The court found certain aggravating circumstances to exist, and based upon those findings, Gales was sentenced to death for each of the first degree murder convictions.