Wednesday, June 25, 2014 | 4:49 p.m.
The innocence of their nicknames — Tumbleweed, Baldy and Tulsa — belies the harsh reality they faced as homeless people on the streets just east of the Las Vegas Strip.
Tulsa remains on those streets, but Tumbleweed is dead and Baldy is in custody while prosecutors weigh a murder charge against him.
Paul Pillat, aka Tumbleweed, died June 11 at Sunrise Hospital. Three days earlier, he had been taken to Desert Springs Hospital and Medical Center complaining of neck and back pain. He was having difficulty eating, drinking, breathing and speaking. A day prior, June 7, Pillat’s neck appeared swollen and his eyes were bloody and popping out of his head, witnesses told police.
The Clark County Coroner’s Office ruled Pillat’s death a homicide and determined the cause was strangulation.
The subsequent investigation led police to James Mark Hahn, aka Baldy, 46, and Charles Summerlin, aka Tulsa, a pair of street denizens.
According to a Metro Police report released today:
Pillat told a person on July 7 that the previous night he had groped a homeless woman who had passed out from drunkenness on Flamingo Road near Koval Lane. “Baldy” and “Tulsa,” Pillat told the person, took exception. “Baldy” choked Pillat and “Tulsa” kicked him in the ribs.
Hahn, interviewed by detectives last week, told police he was friends with Pillat but initially denied hurting him. Instead, Hahn said, Summerlin hurt Pillat. Hahn eventually admitted to grabbing his friend Pillat around the neck in a headlock and taking him to the ground “full force.”
Summerlin told detectives he witnessed the groping and told Pillat to stop. When Pillat continued, Summerlin said, he used his fist to punch Pillat in the face and then kicked him in the ribs. Summerlin told detectives he later heard Hahn had choked Pillat but didn’t witness any choking.
The homeless woman said she later heard Summerlin and Hahn had beaten Pillat. She also heard Hahn bragging about “kicking the (tar)” out of Pillat.
Police booked Hahn into the Clark County Detention Center on Tuesday, on one count of murder.
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office had not yet filed formal charges in the case. Hahn, however, was scheduled to appear in Las Vegas Township Justice Court at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, according to jail records.