Las Vegas Sun

September 30, 2014

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Nevada Supreme Court rejects appeals in 3 death-penalty cases

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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