- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A former Nebraska football player has lost another challenge to his Omaha murder conviction.

Thunder Collins had said in his federal appeal that his constitutional rights were violated when the Nebraska trial judge denied his motions for a new trial and to throw the case out before it went to the jury.

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf Wednesday rejected Collins’ requests, the Lincoln Journal Star said (http://bit.ly/1me0vOP ).

The Nebraska Supreme Court has twice upheld Collins’ convictions and sentences.

Collins was found guilty of first-degree murder and other crimes for the September 2008 slaying of Timothy Thomas, 38, of Los Angeles, during a botched drug deal. Collins was sentenced to life in prison and given 90 to 110 years for attempted murder for shooting and injuring another California man, as well as other crimes.

Four other men also were imprisoned for their roles in the shootings.

Collins has said no reasonable jury could convict him because only one witness testified that Collins was the shooter. Collins said that witness had an incentive to lie.

The state Supreme Court has rejected that argument. Kopf also rejected it, citing a call Collins made from jail to the witness’ father and girlfriend suggesting they persuade the witness to change his story and citing a message that a jail barber relayed to the witness, telling him to keep his mouth shut.

Collins has maintained his innocence throughout his trial and appeals.

Collins played for the Cornhuskers from 2000 to 2002. He quit the team midseason, saying he couldn’t afford to keep playing and needed to focus on taking care of a younger brother, whom he moved from Los Angeles to Nebraska to protect from gangs.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com