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Death sentence reinstated in 1993 Lilburn murder

ATLANTA -- Georgia's Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty Monday in a 20-year-old Gwinnett murder case, its third separate ruling regarding the post-bank robbery shooting.

Michael Wade Nance was convicted of malice murder and other charges in September 1997, not quite four years after he robbed the Tucker Federal Bank in Lilburn. After the robbery -- five days before Christmas 1993 -- Nance fled across Indian Trail Road to the ABC Package Store.

Gabor Balogh was backing out of a parking spot when Nance ripped his door open and shot at him. A bullet hit Balogh in the left elbow before ricocheting into his chest, puncturing his heart and liver. Balogh died and his assailant was detained later after a standoff with police.

In 2000, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld Nance's conviction but reversed his death sentence due to an issue with a juror "who should have been excused." He was sentenced to death again in 2002, and the state's highest court affirmed that decision.

The court ruled on the case for a third time Monday, reaffirming its 2002 decision after a habeas court relieved Nance's death penalty because "his trial attorneys had been ineffective in his resentencing trial for failing to present certain 'mitigating' evidence in Nance's favor that may have led to a sentence less than death."

Not so, the Supreme Court found.

"We conclude that there was not enough of a difference between the evidence presented during the resentencing trial and the evidence presented in the habeas proceeding ... to establish a reasonably probability of a different outcome," the court's opinion said, in part.