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Firefighter, alleged hitman make first court appearance in cocktail waitress’ slaying

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Steve Marcus

George Tiaffay, left, stands with attorneys Robert Langford and Maggie McLetchie during an initial appearance in court at the Clark County Regional Justice Center Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Tiaffay, a City of Las Vegas firefighter, allegedly paid Noel Stevens, a homeless man, to kill his estranged wife, then tried to commit suicide when suspicion turned toward him.

Updated Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 | 11:32 a.m.

Court Appearance in Murder-For-Hire Plot

George Tiaffay appears in court at the Clark County Regional Justice Center Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Tiaffay, a City of Las Vegas firefighter, allegedly paid Noel Stevens, a homeless man, to kill his estranged wife, then tried to commit suicide when suspicion turned toward him. Launch slideshow »

The Las Vegas firefighter accused of hiring a homeless man to kill his wife appeared Monday morning in Las Vegas Justice Court with his alleged co-conspirator.

Authorities say George Tiaffay, 40, hired Noel Stevens, 37, and paid him $600 to kill his estranged wife, 46-year-old Shauna Tiaffay, last month at her Summerlin apartment. The pair have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, murder with use of a deadly weapon, according to a criminal complaint. George Tiaffay also is charged with burglary and malicious destruction of property, according to a criminal complaint.

The defendants — shackled at their hands and feet and seated at opposite ends of a row — told Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis they understood the charges.

Defense lawyer Robert Langford is representing George Tiaffay, who worked as a firefighter for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue; Clark County public defenders Dan Silverstein and Curtis Brown appeared in court on behalf of Stevens.

The defense attorneys said their clients waived their rights to a preliminary hearing in 15 days and asked for a court date in early 2013. Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo didn't object to the request because he said the case likely would go to a grand jury.

Lippis set George Tiaffay and Stevens' preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. Jan. 24.

George Tiaffay called 911 the morning of Sept. 29 to report finding his wife's body when he arrived at her apartment with the couple's 8-year-old daughter. The Clark County Coroner's Office ruled the death of Shauna Tiaffay, who worked as a cocktail waitress at the Palms, a homicide, caused by multiple blunt-force injuries.

According to the arrest report, an unidentified "concerned citizen" contacted police Sept. 30 about his friend's involvement in an alleged murder-for-hire plot. The tip led detectives to Stevens, a homeless man who had done handiwork for George Tiaffay.

While executing a search warrant at Stevens' desert campsite, detectives found a pair of jeans with the victim's blood, police say.

Further investigation revealed frequent contact between Stevens and George Tiaffay. Cell phone records showed George Tiaffay called Stevens 86 times during September, including several the day before his wife's death and one the day of the death.

When George Tiaffay learned detectives were investigating his involvement, police said he apparently tried to commit suicide by ramming his truck into a retaining wall at the end of Summerlin Parkway and the Las Vegas Beltway.

Detectives arrested him two days later, on Oct. 10, at University Medical Center.

Police allege George Tiaffay provided Stevens with a replica key to his wife's apartment so Stevens could wait inside for Shauna Tiaffay to return from work. Detectives found the victim's personal belongings strewn along a path bordering her apartment complex.

Two women, who identified themselves as co-workers of Shauna Tiaffay, attended the brief court hearing Monday morning, wearing pink bracelets in memory of their friend.

George Tiaffay and Noel Stevens remain in the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

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