Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Nevada Supreme Court:

Legislative study of death penalty doesn’t negate capital-punishment cases, justices rule

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court has denied the petitions of two Las Vegas men who want their death penalty trials stopped because of a legislative study on the cost of capital punishment.

The court said nothing in the legislative bill “expressly or implicitly precludes the state from seeking the death penalty or the court imposing the death penalty in capital cases commenced before or after the bill's effective date.”

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.

Additionally, the court said, there is nothing in the bill’s legislative history to suggest it imposes a moratorium on prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

The petitions were filed in behalf of Prentice Marshall and David Burns.

The two men asked the court also to delay their death penalty trials until after the 2015 Legislature meets and considers the cost study. The Legislature refused to allocate money for a new death chamber at the prison in Ely. But prison officials maintain any execution orders can be carried out at the state’s now-shuttered old prison in Carson City.

Marshall is one of six members of the Wood gang linked to the death of off-duty Metro Police Officer Trevor Nettleton in 2009 during in a gun battle at his North Las Vegas home.

Burns is accused in a shooting that killed Derecia Newman and severely injured her 12-year-old daughter DeVonia in August 2010 at Newman’s Las Vegas apartment during a robbery.

There has not been an execution in Nevada since April 2006.

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