Las Vegas Sun

August 15, 2018

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The longest serving inmates in Nevada prisons

This undated file photo released by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows inmate Raymond Wallace Shuman. Before he died on Feb. 2, 2018, Shuman was in the Nevada prison system longer than any of the more than 13,000 other living inmates.

This undated file photo released by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows inmate Raymond Wallace Shuman. Before he died on Feb. 2, 2018, Shuman was in the Nevada prison system longer than any of the more than 13,000 other living inmates.

CARSON CITY — Until Feb. 2, Raymond Wallace Shuman was in the Nevada prison system longer than any of the more than 13,000 other living inmates.

He was originally imprisoned in June 1958 for murdering a truck driver in Mineral County. He was serving a life sentence for that when, in August 1973, he killed another inmate, Ruben Bejarno, by dousing him with paintbrush cleaner and setting him on fire. Bejarno died three days later of third degree burns.

Shuman was 83 when he died at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center on Feb. 2 after serving 60 years in prison.

But Shuman wasn't the only inmate with more than 40 years inside. Most — but not all of the remaining seven longest Nevada prisoners — are murderers.

Shuman's death transferred the dubious honor of longest serving inmate to Thomas Lee Bean who was imprisoned in July 1963 for the murder of Sonja McCaskie, a British skier who had competed in the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. The victim was raped then strangled to death in her Reno apartment and her body mutilated, cut into pieces.

Bean, then 18, confessed to the crime but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The psychiatrist hired by Bean's legal team agreed but two psychiatrists hired by the state said he was sane. Jurors believed the prosecution experts, convicting Bean and recommending death.

That sentence was converted to life without parole when the Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty. When that penalty was restored, the ruling was that states couldn't reinstate death sentences so Bean, now 73, will die in prison.

He has served nearly 55 years and could pass Shuman's record.

After Bean, the longest serving inmate in the Nevada prison system is Kelly Cooper who has been incarcerated since April 1971 on multiple counts of a crime that no longer exists in Nevada statute — infamous crime against nature. That crime historically included offenses such as sodomy. No specifics were available on what Cooper did. Now 67, he was convicted of three counts of that offense and sentenced to life with possible parole on each. His parole eligibility date is May 19, 2070, effectively condemning him to die in prison.

Michael Anselmo is next on the list, an inmate since May 1972 for the murder of Trudy Ann Hiler near the Cal-Neva Lodge at north Lake Tahoe. Her body was found under a rock ledge between the casino and the lake stabbed and strangled to death. Anselmo confessed to the crime telling authorities he was high on LSD at the time.

His life sentence was commuted to allow possible parole by the pardons board in 2005 at the request of then-Justice Bob Rose, who prosecuted Anselmo as Washoe DA.

Anselmo has been before the parole board six times but remains in prison. He's now 66.

Johnny Layton, now 75, has been in prison here since November 1972 for murdering cab driver Charles Anderson in 1970. The victim was killed by a shotgun blast in his cab less than a quarter mile from Mustang brothel east of Reno. He's still serving his life sentence and faces additional counts of attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon, both of which have a start date of 2041.

John Tiffany, 65, has been in prison since November 1972 on a life sentence for the murder of cab driver Glen Wood Kelly near Henderson on New Year's Day 1971. The court records say he shot the cabbie with a pistol then he and Timothy Grimaldi shot him several times more with a shotgun and cut his throat. It wasn't clear which of them did what to the victim. Grimaldi has since died in prison.

While Tiffany has the possibility of parole, he has been seen by the board 17 times and remains in prison.

Barnell Bishop, now 79, has been in prison since September 1973, sentenced to life for murdering four people during an attempted robbery at a Las Vegas cleaners. Before dying, Jake Wright told investigators the robber bound and forced them to lie on the floor of the business, piled clothing on them, soaked it with cleaning fluid then set them on fire.

He was identified by a chrome pistol he left at the scene which he had redeemed from a pawnshop earlier. Investigators also tracked him to a series of silver certificate bills he lost at a casino. One of the victims collected silver certificates. Finally a jailhouse informant told police Bishop admitted the killings to him. He's still serving his first of four life sentences. In addition, he faces convictions for robbery, arson and one for battery by a prisoner.

The final name on the longest serving list is Thurman Hankins, 63, who has been in prison since March 1974. He shares with Cooper the lack of a murder conviction. He was convicted of rape, infamous crime against nature, attempted sexual assault and burglary. He argued at trial the sex was consensual but the jurors believed the prosecution witnesses, not Hankins. Like Tiffany, he has been before the parole board 17 times dating back to 1978 but still hasn't been paroled on the first of those convictions, life for sexual assault.