Nevada Death Penalty news

Started by tramoore, April 17, 2008, 03:14:24 PM

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Grinning Grim Reaper

I am afraid that you and yours will have a very long wait...

Nevada Department of Corrections lacks plan for executions due to prison closure, drug shortage

14 months after shutting down Nevada State Prison in Carson City, site of the state's only death chamber, officials have no solid plan for carrying out executions and no access to a lethal injection drug.

As Nevada's death row inmates continue to appeal their convictions and sentences, the Nevada Department of Corrections has continued to lose its ability to hold an execution.

Corrections officials shut down the Nevada State Prison in Carson City, site of the state's only death chamber, early last year, and they have no solid plan in place for transporting and holding an inmate who is about to be executed, the Reno Gazette-Journal found.

In addition, 1 of the drugs used during a lethal injection has not been available for more than a year, and the state's execution protocol has not been updated to address the drug shortage, the Gazette-Journal found.

The department plans to submit a bill draft request to the Legislature this year asking for $385,000 to build a new execution chamber at the Ely State Prison, said Steve Suwe, a department spokesman.

The Nevada Attorney General's office sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder early in 2011 seeking help to deal with the lethal injection drug shortage, spokeswoman Jennifer Lopez said. But no resolution has been found.

"Should any executions be scheduled, we will do the best to help the Department of Corrections have the drugs necessary to carry out a lawful execution order," Lopez said.

Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

Even if Bollinger has exhausted all his state & federal appeals Nevada is in limbo with executions.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?


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Nevada court won't delay death penalty trials
Published Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 | 11:09 a.m.

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- The Nevada Supreme Court has denied petitions from two murder defendants who wanted their potential death penalty trials delayed until the Legislature completes a study on capital punishment.

Justices denied the requests of Prentice Marshall and David Burns, who asked the court also to delay their death penalty trials until after the 2015 Legislature meets and considers the cost study. .

In an order issued last week, the Las Vegas Sun ( ) reports the court said there is nothing in the legislative bill authorizing the study that precludes death penalty cases from proceeding.

The court also said the Legislature not including any money for a new death chamber was no reason to prohibit death penalty cases from going forward in court.
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Nevada Supreme Court rejects appeals in 3 death-penalty cases
July 31, 2014

CARSON CITY -- Three killers on death row, two from Clark County, have lost their appeals to the Nevada Supreme Court.

The court, in a 5-2 decision by Chief Justice Mark Gibbons, rejected the appeal of Alfonso M. Blake, who fatally shot two women and wounded another in the desert outside of Las Vegas in March 2003.

Blake fled to Los Angeles but was later arrested.

In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Blake claimed his attorneys at trial and in his first appeal were ineffective. He offered an insanity defense at trial, a claim the court rejected.

Justices Michael Cherry and Nancy Saitta dissented and said Blake "presented substantial and compelling new mitigating evidence showing that his childhood was disturbingly dysfunctional and abusive." They said Blake's prior attorney should have raised this issue.

In a separate ruling, the court unanimously denied the fifth appeal of Samuel Howard, sentenced to death for the March 1980 fatal shooting of Dr. George Monahan in Las Vegas.

Howard maintained his attorneys were ineffective in his past appeals.

The court also rejected the latest appeal of Avram V. Nika, sentenced to death for the 1994 fatal shooting of Edward Smith, who had stopped to assist Nika on the freeway 20 miles outside of Reno.
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Court denies petition of death row inmate
Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 | 4:09 p.m.

CARSON CITY -- The Nevada Supreme Court has denied the latest petition of death row inmate Fernando N. Hernandez, who claims he is mentally ill and cannot be executed.

Hernandez was convicted in 2000 in the strangulation of his ex-wife at her Las Vegas home.

The court on Wednesday noted that it had denied an initial appeal and a first petition for a writ of habeas corpus. It said this second petition was filed eight months beyond the deadline.

Hernandez maintained he had reason for the delay because of his difficulty with the English language, a brain injury, dementia and his low-average intelligence.

The court said Hernandez filed a petition with the federal court rather than the state court, but that did not excuse his delay.
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Sanders gets death penalty in homicide
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A federal jury in Alexandria returned a verdict Sept. 26 imposing the death penalty on a Las Vegas, Nevada, man for the kidnap and murder of a 12-year-old-girl, according to U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley.

The federal jury decided that Thomas Sanders, 57, should be put to death for the brutal kidnapping and murder of Lexis Roberts in the fall of 2010. During the penalty phase of the trial, the jury heard from a total of 18 witnesses called by the United States and by the defense. The jury determined that a sentence of death was appropriate for Sanders after deliberating for approximately seven hours. United States District Judge Dee D. Drell presided over the trial. This case represents the first time that the death penalty has been imposed in federal court in the Western District of Louisiana.

The penalty phase of the trial began on September 16, 2014, after the same jury found Sanders guilty of one count of kidnapping resulting in death and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death. Jury selection lasted eight days. Then the guilt phase began on Wednesday, September 3, and ended on Monday, September 8. The jury returned a guilty verdict after deliberating for about an hour.

During the penalty phase, jurors were asked to decide whether Sanders should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison. Evidence admitted during trial established that Sanders met Suellen Roberts, 31, in the summer of 2010 when Roberts rented a storage unit at a warehouse in Las Vegas where Sanders worked. Roberts and Sanders began dating, and approximately two months later Roberts agreed that she and her 12-year-old daughter, Lexis, would go on a trip with Sanders over the Labor Day weekend to a wildlife park near the Grand Canyon. As they were returning to Nevada after three days of traveling, Sanders pulled off Interstate 40 in a remote location in the Arizona desert and fatally shot Suellen Roberts in the head and forced Lexis Roberts into the car, keeping her captive.

Sanders drove several days across the country before he murdered Lexis Roberts in a wooded area in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. Evidence at trial established that Sanders shot Lexis Roberts four times, cut her throat, and left her body in the woods where a hunter found her body on October 8, 2010. A nation-wide manhunt ensued and Sanders was arrested on November 14, 2010, at a truck stop in Gulfport, Mississippi, by FBI agents and a Harrison County Sheriff's Deputy.

During the guilt phase of the trial, jurors heard from 16 witnesses who described Suellen Roberts' relationship with Sanders, the sequence of events that led up to the murder, and how law enforcement established Sanders as the killer. Jurors also heard a recorded confession from Sanders in which Sanders admitted killing the mother and daughter. Evidence considered by the jury established that Sanders shot Lexis Roberts four times, cut her throat, and left her body in the woods. A forensic analysis determined that Sanders slashed Lexis Roberts' throat with such force and violence that the knife left cut marks on her cervical vertebra.

Members of Roberts' family testified at trial, including her grandmother, grandfather, and great-aunt. Testimony from family members shared with the jurors that Lexis was vulnerable and explained the devastating impact that the crime has had on their family. Her great-aunt testified that Lexis vacationed at her New Hampshire home every summer, with the most recent trip just weeks before Lexis was kidnapped and murdered by Sanders. Her aunt testified that during Lexis' last trip to New Hampshire, she encouraged Lexis to write in two journals. Pages from the journals were introduced during the penalty phase and were considered by the jury. The journals helped establish that Lexis was trusting, and in one journal she wrote that she believed that nothing bad would ever happen to her.

Lexis Roberts' grandfather testified that he encouraged Suellen and Lexis Roberts to move from New Hampshire to Las Vegas so that Suellen could find better employment. He told jurors that based on what happened to his daughter and granddaughter, he now suffers from guilt for encouraging them to move.

The penalty phase of the trial further established that Sanders' crime was the result of substantial planning and premeditation and that Lexis Roberts was a vulnerable victim. Testimony included that of two of Lexis' sixth grade teachers from Charles Silvestri Junior High in Las Vegas. Her math teacher told jurors that Lexis was extremely shy but very hard working. Her English teacher testified that Lexis was sweet and vulnerable. When asked to describe Lexis in one word, she replied "innocent."

"These types of cases are never easy, but today we remember the victims, their families and their loved ones. The nature of the crime and the level of violence involved are something that we never get used to no matter how long we have done this. The severity of the sentence imposed against Sanders underscores the senseless brutality of his acts against an innocent 12-year-old girl," Finley stated. "Lexis Roberts was needlessly taken from a family that loved her, and she was denied the most fundamental right of life, and they were denied the joy of knowing what that life could have been. Still, we do not lose sight of the fact that this trial and sentencing also represent the right of due process that was extended to Sanders, and a jury of his peers has rendered justice. Nothing, no trial or sentence, can ever bring Lexis or her mother back, but we hope that the verdict brings some measure of closure to Lexis' family. The prosecutors and the law enforcement agencies that assisted in this case are to be commended for their hard work. The importance of their collective efforts cannot be overstated."

"This is a heartbreaking case," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell. "A young girl witnessed the murder of her mother, was held captive for days, and had her life cut tragically short by a senseless, brutal murder. We hope today's verdict will help Lexis' family as they continue to struggle with the loss of their loved ones."

FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Anderson added, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims who have endured unimaginable grief while awaiting the just verdict and sentence for such horrific crimes."

The FBI, Central Louisiana Safe Streets Task Force, Catahoula Parish Sheriff's Office, Harrison County Sheriff's Office, Yavapai County Arizona Sheriff's Office, Coconino County Arizona Sheriff's Office, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Flanagan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown, and Trial Attorney Julie Mosley of the U.S. Department of Justice's Capital Case Section prosecuted the case.
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Man on death row gets new sentence, may go free
19 December 2014

ELKO, Nev. (AP) -- A Nevada man sentenced to die for a 1998 murder has been issued a new sentence that gives him credit for 16 years of time served and makes him eligible for parole immediately.

Elko County District Judge Norman Robison on Thursday resentenced 55-year-old Kelly Rhyne to life in prison with the possibility of parole after the Carlin man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a deal with prosecutors.

"Mr. Rhyne, you've spent a lot of time in maximum security, and I hope you've learned from it," Robison said.

The state Supreme Court twice upheld Rhyne's first-degree conviction in the beating death of Donald "Lobo" Brown in an Elko alley.

But Robison overturned it in 2010, ruling Rhyne was mentally incompetent at his first trial and his lawyers were unqualified to handle a death penalty case.

Rhyne did not address the court on Thursday, except to thank the judge, the Elko Daily Free Press reported (

Prosecutors agreed to a plea bargain rather than retrying the case. In granting Rhyne credit for 5,891 days served, Robison said he thought the lesser charge and punishment were appropriate.

"I also feel the penalty imposed by the jury was excessive," the judge said.

An accomplice in the beating, James Mendenhall, accepted a plea deal for second-degree murder and never went to trial. Earlier this year, Mendenhall was granted partial parole for his murder charge, though he will continue to serve up to eight years on a consecutive conspiracy charge.

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, Kelly Rhyne listens during a plea hearing in Elko District Court in Elko, Nev. Rhyne, sentenced to death for a 1998 murder, was issued a new sentence Thursday, that gives him credit for 16 years of time served and makes him eligible for parole immediately.
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Court denies appeal of death row inmate
Oct. 23, 2015

CARSON CITY -- The Nevada Supreme Court has denied the appeal of death row inmate William B. Leonard, convicted in the fatal stabbing of a fellow inmate at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City in 1987.

The court rejected the appeal in a 5-2 decision posted Thursday.

According to court records, Leonard argued he did not deserve the death penalty because new evidence shows he suffered mental health problems at the time he stabbed Joseph Wright with a prison-made shank.

The new mental health evidence indicates Leonard has poor impulse control and may react violently and uncontrollably when he feels threatened or if intoxicated or frightened, according to court records.

At the time, Leonard was in prison for killing two people in Mineral County. Wright was also serving a term for murder, according to court records.

The court, in the majority decision written by Chief Justice James Hardesty, said the new claims by Leonard lacked merit and he was not entitled to a new sentencing hearing. The court said there wasn't enough evidence to show a miscarriage of justice.

Justices Michael Cherry and Nancy Saitta dissented.
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