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NY-NY gunman found guilty on 51 of 52 charges

Updated Monday, July 13, 2009 | 8:19 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Prosecutors Ravi Bawa and David Schubert, right, speak to the media July 13, 2009, after jurors returned a guilty verdict on 51 of 52 felony charges in the trial of Steven Zegrean. Zegrean stood trial in connection with a July 2007 shooting at the New York-New York casino.

Click to enlarge photo

Defense attorney Lynn Avants speaks to the media at the Clark County Regional Justice Center about his disappointment after his client, Steven Zegrean, was found guilty on 51 of 52 felony charges Monday evening in connection with the July 2007 shooting at the New York-New York casino.

Casino shooting trial

Steven Francis Zegrean, 53, pleaded not guilty to 52 felony charges in the July 2007 shooting at the New York-New York casino. He is shown July 7, 2009. Launch slideshow »

A jury convicted Steven Zegrean on 51 of 52 charges Monday evening in the July 6, 2007, shooting inside the New York-New York hotel-casino.

Jurors deliberated for more than fours hours, ultimately finding him guilty on all but one charge of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

Zegrean, 53, is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 31.

His attorney, Lynn Avants, said the outcome was disappointing but the trial gave the judge and jurors some insight into the man who fired a handgun 16 times and injured four people.

"They got a real good chance to view him as a human being," Avants said.

The defense's lone witness, a local neuropsychologist, testified that Zegrean suffered profound depression and intended to cause a commotion so police would have to shoot him.

The defense characterized Zegrean as a quiet, sad man who became profoundly depressed because of emotional and physical pain brought on by two failed marriages and the loss of his job and house.

He intended to end his life that night, Avants said. Following the verdict, Avants said he doesn't think Zegrean is still suicidal.

"In my personal opinion, Steven needs a lot of help," he said. "I'm not concerned that Steve is going to commit suicide."

His two adult daughters attended the trial and have visited him in jail, Avants said.

"They love him very much," he said.

Avants said he would appeal the verdict but said he couldn't provide the specific issues he plans to challenge.

During four days of testimony, jurors heard from 23 witnesses, including the four who were injured. Zegrean did not take the stand.

Prosecutors said that Zegrean carried a fully loaded 9 mm pistol and 249 rounds of ammunition and failed in his attempt to kill others.

Video surveillance from casino cameras showed Zegrean standing on the second floor balcony and firing multiple times toward the casino floor.

The defense argued that if he wanted to kill someone, there were people within point-blank range who would have been easy targets.

Prosecutor Ravi Bawa said he still managed to hit four people out of 16 shots and more could have been hit had his gun not jammed on the 17th bullet.

"We knew what he was attempting to do. The question was whether the jury agreed with us and they did," Bawa said.

The final bullet that jammed was the one charge the jury acquitted him of because they couldn't clearly identify the potential victim, Bawa said.

The video showed Zegrean extend his arm with the gun in hand toward someone or something that was not in the frame.

Prosecutors wouldn't guess what his sentence would be but Bawa said he deserves to remain in prison for the rest of his life.

"The longer that that man is in prison, the safer we all are," he said.

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