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.

 

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.