Murder Case Resolved – 8/3/17

“Kellie Phillips, now 40, stood before District Judge Douglas Herndon on Thursday in a nearly empty courtroom with tears welling in her eyes, then whispered “guilty” to both charges, which carry a prison sentence of between 10 and 25 years.”

August 3, 2017 – 6:36 pm
The full article containing the above excerpt can be found by clicking here.

The Alleged Crime: The client and her co-defendant were charged with several felonies, including First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, and Child Abuse and Neglect charges.

The Evidence:  The alleged crimes stem from a complicated set of facts involving the client’s co-defendant.  In summary, the State alleged that the death of a child was the result of abuse and neglect.  Additionally, the co-defendant was charged with sexual abuse-related crimes of which our client was unaware.

The Investigation:  Through investigation, the defense team was able to determine that the client had been the victim of severe abuse at the hands of her co-defendant.  Her actions and omissions were colored by her fear and the level of control that he had over her and the children, as well as her desire to protect the safety of her and her other children. 

The Outcome:  The client accepted a negotiation that allows her to avoid the possibility of a first-degree murder conviction, which could carry a punishment of life without the possibility of parole.  Instead, she agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and one count of felony child abuse resulting in substantial bodily harm, where she and the State have agreed to a sentence of 10-25 years in prison.


This case is, without a doubt, one of the most emotionally draining and difficult cases I have ever worked on.  What happened in this case was terrible and heart-wrenching.  Yet, it is difficult to know what is fair or right in a situation where the client did not intend for something bad to happen, yet the client’s actions or omissions had such grave consequences.  In the end, I believe that the negotiation is a fair resolution in this case.

Disclaimer: My involvement with this case was not as the lead attorney, however I assisted the lead attorney in preparing the case for trial and discussing the case with the client.

News Interview – 8/1/17

One of the most important things I have learned as an attorney is to reserve judgment when you read a news story until you have more information.  Informing the public regarding current events is a valuable service the media provides.  However, people’s lives can be drastically affected by one story.

Please remember that criminal charges are not convictions.  One of the cornerstones of American democracy is the freedom of the press.  But, one of the cornerstones of the American justice system is that every individual is presumed innocent.  It is the burden of the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual is guilty of a crime.  All too often, in my experience, the “court of public opinion” forgets that part.

For example, recently, I was interviewed regarding a client’s case.  The case involving allegations against Kathryn Navrides has garnered a lot of media attention.  Unfortunately, people tend to jump to conclusions based on soundbytes and incomplete information, and I have seen a lot of negative public reaction to reports on the case.  Although I will not comment on the specifics of an ongoing case, I can say that I think the premature judgment that I have seen is unfair.  As always, there is more than one side to the story.

The video including my interview was posted by KSNV Channel 3 in Las Vegas, and the entire article can be found by clicking here.


Battery Case Resolved – 7/26/17

The Alleged Crime: The client was charged with one count of (simple) battery, a misdemeanor.  Based upon his situation, it would be possible that a conviction would have negative immigration consequences for the client.  Based upon his prior record, it was likely that a conviction would result in jail time.

The Evidence:  The alleged victim claimed that the client struck him in the forehead by swinging around an object.  Photographs showed an injury to the alleged victim’s forehead which was bleeding at the time police arrived.  At the time of trial, the alleged victim was in court and was maintaining his story when speaking with the prosecutor.

The Catch: Despite the alleged victim’s claims, my client explained to me that he acted in self-defense because the alleged victim broke into his bedroom and tried to attack him.  After speaking with my client and his family, I reviewed evidence they possessed and presented it to the prosecutor.

The Outcome:  Based on the evidence I presented to the prosecutor and the argument I was able to make, I convinced the prosecutor to make an offer that would allow my client to leave custody and to complete requirements to earn a “dropdown” to a conviction of Disturbing the Peace rather than Battery.  This offer allowed my client to avoid risking a conviction of the potentially deportable conviction of battery (so long as he completes his requirements).

Making News

A case that I previously posted about on the blog has been featured in a recent Las Vegas Review Journal article!

You can view the article by clicking on the linked quote below:

“A Las Vegas attorney received five years’ probation Thursday for engaging in a sex act with a client who was jailed at the Clark County Detention Center.”

July 6, 2017 – 6:34 pm
Ben Nadig, my mentor as a criminal defense attorney, worked hard on this case to help the client secure the best possible outcome for his case.  I’m happy to have been able to contribute to achieving that result by authoring a successful motion to suppress the client’s statement when police chose not to read him mandatory Miranda rights.
Holding the State to its burden and holding law enforcement accountable are some of the most important aspects of my job as a criminal defense attorney.  I’m committed to working diligently to make sure my clients’ rights are respected throughout the process, and I’m pleased that this case serves as an example of success in that area.
Disclaimer: My involvement with this case was not as the lead attorney; however, I assisted the lead attorney in preparing the case for trial and drafting the motion discussed in this post.

Not Guilty Verdicts in Felony Jury Trial – 6/6/17

The Alleged Crimes:  The client faced nine felony counts, including Burglary While in Possession of a Firearm (Category B), Robbery with Use of a Deadly Weapon (Category B), Attempt Robbery with Use of a Deadly Weapon (Category B), and First Degree Kidnapping with Use of a Deadly Weapon (Category A).  The charges included three separate events at three separate locations.  Prior to trial, an Amended Indictment was filed, dropping two counts of First Degree Kidnapping with Use of a Deadly Weapon.

The Evidence:  The State alleged that the three separate events were robberies committed in a series, and linked them by the clothing worn by the suspect in each event.  At trial, the State produced evidence including testimony of several witnesses and surveillance video footage from each event.  As to the first event, the State was unable to produce any physical evidence directly tying the client to the crime.

The Jury Trial:  I worked with another criminal defense attorney, Jess Matsuda, during the trial.  Together, we were able to effectively cross-examine witnesses, including alleged victims, police officers, and expert witnesses such as DNA and Fingerprint Analysts, to show the weaknesses in the State’s case.

The Outcome:  After deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY on one count of Burglary While in Possession of a Firearm and one count of Robbery with Use of a Deadly Weapon.  The jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on the remaining five counts.  Mr. Matsuda’s and my careful preparation, cross-examination, and argument allowed our client not to be found guilty on any of the seven Category A and B felony counts in this case.

Not Guilty Jury Verdict


Note: The State has announced its intent to retry the five counts for which the jury was unable to reach a verdict, and a new trial date has been set as to those counts.  Because those counts are still open, I have not included detailed information regarding those portions of the case.  Because the jury found our client NOT GUILTY on two of the counts, the State cannot retry the client as to those counts.


Disclaimer: My involvement with this case was not as the lead attorney; however, I served as second-chair at trial, including by assisting the lead attorney in preparing the case for trial, discussing the case with the client.

Successful Motion Leads to Sought Resolution

The Alleged Crime: A client faced one count of a Category D felony.

The Evidence:  The alleged crime was caught on video.  The alleged victim gave a recorded statement to police.  The client was also interrogated by police, which was recorded, but he was not read Miranda rights.

The Motion:  I drafted a motion to suppress the client’s recorded statement based upon the Miranda violations.  Because the client was in police custody at the time he was interrogated, but was not read his rights as required by Miranda and other case law, the State conceded in its filed response that all statements he made after a certain point in the process were inadmissible in court because of the violation.

The Outcome:  Because of the fact that the client’s statements were no longer admissible at trial, the State made a new, lower offer of negotiation to the client, which he accepted.  Now, the State has agreed to probation and, if he is successful, he will not have a felony conviction on his record (also known as a drop down).  My careful review of the record and discovery in this case, even after it passing through several attorneys previously, allowed me to file a motion to protect the client’s rights and push the State to offer the resolution he had been seeking.



Disclaimer: My involvement with this case was not as the lead attorney; however, I assisted the lead attorney in preparing the case for trial and drafting the motion discussed in this post.

Not Guilty Verdict + Reinstatement – 5/4/17

The Alleged Crime: My client had previously entered into a negotiation on a case where he had pleaded guilty to a Battery Domestic Violence charge.  The negotiation included, among other requirements, a “broad stay out of trouble order” (meaning no new arrests or citations) and a suspended jail sentence.  My client was charged with a Battery Domestic Violence Second Offense.  The City of Las Vegas sought conviction plus requirements on the new case as well as revocation and imposition of the suspended sentence on his older case for allegedly violating the stay out of trouble order by picking up a new case.

The Evidence:  The alleged victim claimed to police that the defendant had battered her during an argument regarding their children.  She told police that he pushed her up against a wall and put his hands around her neck.

The Trial and Revocation Hearing:  During the trial and revocation hearing, the alleged victim recanted much of her story.  She explained that she had been afraid of my client because of the argument, but that he did not actually physically touch her.  She had called police because she was intimidated by the nature of the verbal argument.

The Outcome:  My client was found not guilty on the new case and was given additional time to complete requirements on his old case without imposition of jail time.

Not Guilty Verdict – 4/26/17

The Alleged Crime:  My client was charged with one count of Battery Domestic Violence, a misdemeanor.

The Evidence:  The alleged victim claimed that her ex battered her while kicking her out of the house, including grabbing her arm, hitting her, and knocking her to the ground.  Officers arrived at the scene.  No charges were filed at that time.  Several days later, the alleged victim sent photographs to police of injuries she said were a result of the battery.

The Trial:  After cross-examination of the alleged victim and two police officers, I was able to show that the alleged victim’s story didn’t ring true.  In fact, the responding officers did not even file charges at the time because they did not find probable cause to do so.  On the stand, the alleged victim claimed that she was so scared of my client that she barricaded the door of her bedroom to keep him out before he even returned to the residence.  She said he still managed to break down her door, grabbed her arm, took her phone, knocked her to the ground, and battered her.  She claimed that he took her gun from her bag so she couldn’t protect herself.  Only after the alleged victim provided additional information to police at a later date, were charges filed against my client.  By playing the alleged victim’s 911 calls, I was able to reveal that she had lied to dispatch and said there were no weapons in the home despite having a gun in her possession.  Moreover, I was able to reveal through cross-examination that her story didn’t line up and there was no evidence at the time of the officers’ arrival on scene to corroborate the alleged victim’s story.

The Outcome:  My client was found not guilty of all charges.

Not Guilty Verdict – 12/12/16

The Alleged Crime: The client was charged with one count of Battery Domestic Violence, a misdemeanor.

The Evidence:  The alleged victim and her daughter claimed that the defendant battered the alleged victim when she went to retrieve her belongings from their residence.  They claimed that the alleged victim went to the hospital after the incident due to the alleged injuries.

The Trial:  Through cross examination of the alleged victim, her daughter, the responding police officer, and direct examination of an independent witness, I was able to show that the alleged victim and her daughter were not being honest on the stand.  Their story did not make sense and was inconsistent with the story they had told officers on the night of the alleged incident.  Moreover, despite claiming that the alleged victim had been slammed against walls and had vomited blood, there was no physical evidence or visible injuries to corroborate the story.  Moreover, my client and the independent witness had called police to the residence before the alleged victim because of her inappropriate conduct while retrieving her belongings.  I was able to reveal through testimony and photographs that the alleged victim had actually used a taser against the independent witness before leaving and telling hospital staff and police that my client had battered her.

The Outcome:  My client was found not guilty of all charges.