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Supreme Court Denies Mexican Government Appeal to Death Penalty Case

The Mexican government cannot appeal a death penalty case on behalf of a Mexican citizen who was convicted of killing three men at a social club, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled.

The state's highest court on Thursday quashed a motion filed by Mexico, ruling it did not have the standing to intervene on behalf of 27-year-old Miguel Padilla.

Padilla was convicted of killing three men near Altoona in August 2005 after his friend wasn't allowed into a social club. The court did allow his other appeals to continue.

The Mexican government sought to allow Padilla to withdraw his no-contest plea to an illegal weapons charge related to the shootings. As an illegal immigrant, Padilla was not allowed to possess a weapon.

The illegal weapons charge has been the focus of appeals by Mexico and Padilla's attorneys because it was cited by prosecutors as one of the aggravating circumstances justifying the death penalty.

Michael O'Connor, a Phoenix attorney hired by the Mexican government, declined to comment Tuesday because he had not yet seen a copy of the ruling or had an opportunity to discuss it with his client.

Jurors deliberated only two hours before convicting Padilla of three counts of first-degree murder in the shootings outside the United Veterans Association Club in Altoona on Aug. 28, 2005.

Prosecutors said Padilla's friend began arguing with club employees after he was denied admission. Padilla, who had been in the United States illegally since he was a boy, went to his vehicle, got a gun, returned and opened fire. A doorman, Fredrick Rickabaugh Sr., 59; club owner Alfred Mignogna, 61; and patron Stephen M. Heiss, 28, were killed.