Monday, Dec. 2, 2002 | 11:10 a.m.
An alleged murder-for-hire case involving a lesbian love triangle that was to go to trial today will be continued after a defendant's claim that he is mentally retarded.
Luis Barroso, 24, made the claim through his defense attorney last week, and the case is expected to be continued by District Judge Mark Gibbons today, Chief Deputy District Attorney Frank Coumou said.
"We think it has to do with the recent (U.S.) Supreme Court ruling that says mentally retarded people can't be executed," Coumou said.
The district attorney's office is seeking the death penalty for both Barroso and Obed Marroquin.
Barroso and Marroquin, 27, are charged in the death of Tzatzi Sanchez, 27, who was found strangled to death in her home near Nellis Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue on Jan. 15, 2001. Whether Marroquin's trial will be continued will also be decided by Gibbons today.
Metro Police allege that Marcela Whaley hired Barroso and Marroquin to sexually assault and kill Sanchez. Police said that their investigation revealed that Sanchez left Whaley to begin dating another woman whom Whaley had previously dated for six years.
The men are alleged to have broken into Sanchez's home and tied up Sanchez and two men they found there. During the hourlong incident, police allege, Sanchez was sexually assaulted and gagged with her own hair and a scarf before being strangled.
Whaley was arrested in August after authorities found her in her hometown of Durango, Mexico. Prior to her arrest, Whaley had last been seen on Jan. 25, 2001, trying to enter the country from Mexico. U.S. Border Patrol officers deported her because she lied and said she was a U.S. citizen.
Coumou is currently seeking extradition of Whaley back to Las Vegas. Assurances have been given to Mexican authorities that the state will not seek the death penalty against Whaley, Coumou said.
"It's a big question mark right now as to when she'll be extradited, but it is looking promising," Coumou said.