Las Vegas Sun

October 15, 2018

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Court rejects murder appeals

CARSON CITY -- The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday denied four appeals from men convicted in Clark County of murdering three women and a man in 1996.

In two of the cases court protective orders had directed the assailants to stay away from the women.

The court dismissed the appeal of Lazaro Hernandez, sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole for the fatal shooting of Cerbano Ramirez and the wounding of his estranged wife Ana Hernandez in the parking lot of the Excalibur hotel-casino on May 17, 1996.

Ana Hernandez had obtained a restraining order against her husband four days before the shooting. But he appeared in the parking lot and opened fire on his wife and her companion. Ramirez died, and the wife was wounded in the arm. Lazaro said he was angry because his wife had deceived him by going out with another man -- an allegation the wife denied.

The court denied Hernandez's argument that the prosecution committed misconduct during closing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial by talking about an easy life in prison where the inmates get to read books, watch TV and breathe air, unlike the victim.

The court turned down the appeal of Tyrone Howard, who fatally shot his mother Catherlena Howard on March 18, 1996. Only hours before she had obtained a restraining order and police had evicted Howard from her home. Howard was sentenced to consecutive terms of life without possibility of parole.

Howard, through his lawyer, asked the court to overturn the conviction on grounds hearsay statements should not have been admitted at the trial. A locksmith was allowed to testify that the mother had told him shortly before the killing that her son had threatened her.

The court said the mother's statement to the locksmith was admissible in light of Howard's defense that was he was afraid his mother was obtaining a gun when he shot her.

The appeal of Joseph Martinez was also dismissed. He was convicted in the September 1996 fatal stabbing of Kathleen Francis Flynn in her home. Martinez was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole after he entered a guilty plea. Martinez unsuccessfully argued that the district court was in error by denying his motion to get a new attorney.

The court rejected the appeal of Uricos L. Campbell, found guilty of second degree murder in the fatal shooting of his sister-in law Deborah Campbell. Campbell's brother Darion and Deborah were involved in a heated argument that included Deborah's boyfriend, an ex-felon named Robert Quabar.

There was a struggle, and Uricos said the gun he was carrying accidentally went off, killing the woman. In his unsuccessful appeal Uricos Campbell said there were insufficient facts to convict him of the November 1996 shooting.

Campbell's brother Darion was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and other counts and his appeal has already been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

In another case, the court upheld the conviction of Phillip Cohen who pled guilty to two counts of embezzlement in Clark County. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay the victims $305,000.