Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2015

Jury decides Homick must die

Steven Homick was told Sunday he must die for the 1985 murders of a Las Vegas heiress, her maid and a deliveryman.

The same jury which found the 48-year-old former policeman guilty of the triple murder handed him three death penalties, following deliberations spanning four days.

Homick showed no emotion and seemed resigned to the jury verdict.

The jurors, however, appeared exhausted, showing the wear of six weeks of trial and the obviously difficult penalty process - which reportedly almost ended once with a hung jury.

Homick was convicted of the execution-style shooting deaths of oil heiress Bobbie Jean Tipton; her maid, Marie Bullock; and James Meyers, a deliveryman who apparently was killed when he happened onto the death scene.

The victims were each shot three times and their bodies found around an opened floor safe in a closet in Tipton's plush Paradise Valley home.

Jewelery taken from the home was eventually linked to Homick, whose attorneys eventually admitted the defendant was involved in the fencing of the jewels but denied he had any responsibility for the murders themselves.

The evidence presented during the trial in the court of District Judge Myron Leavitt was primarily circumstantial, except for the testimony of Tim Catt, a Homick associate, who said the balding defendant confessed the murders to him.

Debbie Meyers, the wife of the deliveryman, bit her lip and then managed a smile as the jury sentenced Homick to death for killing her husband.

"I'm glad it turned out this way," she said. "It's been such a long wait."

She said she felt a sense of relief now that the case is finally concluded, but admits she doesn't know what she is going to do now. Meyers had spent many days in court over the last six weeks watching the court proceedings.

Ironically, David Tipton, the husband of the slain heiress, was not present for the death penalty decision although he had been a witness at the trial and then held a personal vigil outside the courtroom during most of the remaining days.

Reports had him spending Sunday at Lake Mead.

Deputy District Attorney Brad Jerbic called the sentence "certainly appropriate."

"It would be hard to imagine a case more appropriate for the death penalty than a triple murder," he said, adding that he is relieved the case is finally concluded.

Predictably, Homick's attorney, Bill Smith, said he was "extremely disappointed" with the jury verdict.

"When we said we were not going to throw in the towel (after Homick was found guilty of the murders), we meant it," he said. "The jury had an extremely difficult time and at one time we though it was going to be deadlocked."

"This is not an open and shit case," Smith said., repeating the approach he took during the penalty hearing.

He asked the jurors then not to consider the death penalty if they had any "lingering doubt" about Homick's guilt.

He argued that unles the jurors were "absolutely certain - not just certain beyond a reasonable doubt" - that Homick was the actual killer, there should not be a death penalty.

In returning the death penalty, the jury listed four "aggravating circumstances" which warranted such a sentence.

  • The crime involved the death of more than one person.
  • The crime was committed after he made unlawful entry into the home.
  • The murders were committed during a robbery.
  • Homick committed the murders to avoid arrest.

The jury did not list any mitigating circumstances to counterbalance or overcome the aggravating issues and justify a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Courthouse security was extremely tight Sunday, as it had been over the last few days when reports of a possible escape attempt surfaced.

Homick was escorted to the courtroom from the detention center by a squad of SWAT officers, who had been evident in court recently.

Homick, a one-time professional baseball player, was also convicted of robbery and burglary during the trial and will be sentenced on those by Judge Leavitt on June 21.

He faces a possible 40 years in prison on those convictions, which would only be an issue if the death sentences were overturned on appeal.

During the trial, Homick was linked to the murder weapon by Michael Dominguez, an associate who said Homick gave him the same gun several months before and ordered him to shoot two people.

Dominguez, who Smith alleged was the actual Tipton killer, said he saw the same weapon in Homick's car the afternoon after the murders.

Dominguez, who is serving a 25-year to life sentence in California for his part in the "Ninja murders," testified under virtual immunity that he used the .22 caliber pistol to shoot Craig Maraldo and Cheryl McDowell on July 4, 1985. Balistics evidence showed the same weapon was used in both incidents.

Maraldo and McDowell were both in court Sunday.

McDowell said Homick "got what he deserved" and Maraldo, who was a frequent trial observer, said he was "feeling good."

Homick was also connected to the murders when the telephone number of the Tipton home was found in Homick's date book.

FBI surveillance information also showed Homick or someone in his family had called the Tipton house the week before and then the night of the murders.

The defense had argued that the informants against Homick all had reason to lie - primarily to avoid prosecution themselves.

Smith noted Dominguez' immunity deal was only valid if he was not found to be the gunman in the Tipton shootings.

Smith, who was court appointed along with Don green to defend Homick, said he was not sure if he would also be named to appeal the guilty verdict and death sentence.

Homick's days in court, however, are not over.

Following his sentencing here, he is expected to be transported to Los Angeles to stand trial in the "Ninja murders" of Gerald and Vera Woodman, also in 1985.

After that, he and 11 associates will face a federal trial in Las Vegas on racketeering, drug fraud and related charges.

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