Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2017

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Nevada Supreme Court rejects self-defense plea of Reno man

The Nevada Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a man who said he was in fear of his life when he engaged in a fight and stabbed another man to death with a pocket knife.

The court said there was some evidence of self defense but still found Ray Pineda guilty of second-degree murder. Pineda was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of 10 years to life for the 1999 killing of Julio Jimenez in Reno.

According to court briefs, the two men were arguing about being involved in gang activity when Pineda threw the first punch and the two started to fight. The fight ended when Pineda put Jimenez in a head lock and asked him if he had enough; Jimenez signaled he had enough and Pineda let go. During the fight, however, Jimenez was stabbed in the stomach several times. He died later from those wounds.

Pineda maintained that he had been injured several times in prior fights and feared that he would be killed or seriously injured. Witnesses who were at the scene testified that they did not think Pineda was in a reasonable fear for his life.

Pineda was originally convicted in 2001 of second-degree murder in a trial in Reno. But he appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, arguing that District Judge Jerome Polaha failed to give the jury the proper instructions about self defense.

The Supreme Court invalidated the murder conviction, triggering a second trial.

The court said Tuesday that Polaha instructed the jury that the prosecution had the burden to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the killing was justified and that if it failed, Pineda must be acquitted. The court also rejected other claims that the prosecution was guilty of misconduct during the trial.

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