Monday, July 13, 2015
November 14, 2012 http://www.lasvegassun.com
ARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, has upheld the murder conviction and death penalty sentence for Thomas Richardson in the hammer slaying and robbery of two people in Las Vegas.
Richardson and Robert Dehnart agreed in September 2005 to rob and murder Steve Folker, who was at the home of Estelle Feldman, also killed with hammer blows to the head, records show.
Dehnart, who was the 18-year old son of Richardson’s girlfriend, agreed to testify against Richardson as part of a plea deal. He was sentenced to 20 to 50 years for first-degree murder and a consecutive 4 to 30 year term for robbery.
Chief Justice Michael Cherry dissented in the ruling, saying evidence against Richardson “was not overwhelming” and errors at trial required the conviction be overturned and a new trial ordered. Justice Nancy Saitta agreed with Cherry.
Richardson maintained he was in California at the time of the murders.
But the court’s majority opinion said the trial testimony of Dehnart “is sufficiently corroborated,” and substantial evidence supports the jury verdict.
The court said District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt was wrong in not permitting the defense in closing arguments to maintain Dehnart was lying to receive a lighter sentence.
But the court called it harmless error.
Cherry, in his dissent, said defense attorneys should have been allowed to argue that Richardson had returned to California before the time of the murder.
“As there was conflicting evidence of this crucial fact and no physical evidence placing Richardson in the home or even in the state at the time of the murders, (defense) counsel’s argument became much more vital to the defense,” Cherry wrote.
Cherry also wrote that evidence at the crime scene was mishandled, and a replica of the hammer used in the killing should not have been introduced at the trial.
November 9, 2012 http://www.ktnv.com
Las Vegas, — Bryan Hall appeared in court Friday to find out if he could face the death penalty for killing a waiter at Caesars Palace.
Family and friends of the victim, Brad Flamm, gathered in the courtroom at the Regional Justice Center for the decision.
It was an emotional morning as both attorneys argued the pros and cons of the death penalty in the case.
Just a few hours later, the jury reached a verdict that Hall will face death as punishment for his conviction.
Hall was convicted of murdering Flamm earlier in the week.
Flamm’s family was visibly satisfied when the decision was read in court.
“We’re just glad justice is done. This guy won’t hurt anyone ever again,” said Flamm’s father, Fred. “He’s put away, and he’s not going to be with us anymore. Hopefully the sooner the better.”
Hall and Flamm had been friends, but police said they got into an argument over a woman they both dated.
In May 2009, Flamm’s body was found by a loading dock outside Caesars Palace. He had been beaten and strangled.
Flamm’s mother said it was hard to see him in court, but harder to see him at the county jail, where she happens to work.
“But now he won’t be there,” Jennifer Flamm said. “I won’t have to go into work and worry about him being there.”
The Flamm family is happy to be able to now move forward, keeping Brad’s spirit alive.
“Brad lives on in our hearts,” Fred Flamm said. “We miss him, but he’s still there.”
Hall will return to court for a formal sentencing on January 17.
may 10, 2012 source : http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com
May 7, 2012 Source : http://www.lasvegassun.com
A convicted killer does not have to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he does not deserve a death sentence, a defense lawyer says.
John R. Petty of the Washoe County public defender’s office told the Nevada Supreme Court that it should nullify the death penalty given murderer James Biela because a wrong instruction was given to the jury during the penalty phase of the trial in Reno.
But Terry McCarthy of the Washoe County district attorney’s office said each juror makes his or her own decision. And the death penalty should be upheld.
But Justice Kristina Pickering said there could be confusion in the jury instruction.
On Jan. 20, 2008, 19-year-old Brianna Dennison disappeared while sleeping on the couch of the home of a friend in Reno. Her body was found Feb. 15 in a field. She had been raped and strangled with a pair of thong panties.
Petty, the chief appeal deputy in the public defender’s office, said the jury was wrongly instructed that the mitigating circumstances must outweigh the aggravating circumstances to eliminate the possibility of the death penalty.
But Justice Michael Douglas noted the defense at the trial never objected to the jury instruction. Nor did the defense attorney argue against it in his closing argument.
But Petty said the court should either grant a new penalty hearing or reduce the death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Deputy District Attorney McCarthy told the court there was no requirement at trial that the death penalty be imposed. He said it was a moral judgment by the juror.
In his brief to the court, McCarthy quoted the instruction as saying, “If you find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that at least one aggravating circumstance exists and each of you determines beyond a reasonable doubt that any mitigating circumstance do not outweigh the aggravating, the defendant is eligible for a death sentence.”
The court took the arguments under submission.
Biela is one of 82 men on death row in the state prison in Ely.
There has not been an execution by lethal injection in Nevada since Daryl Mack was put to death on April 26, 2006.