Death Penalty in Nevada

Death Penalty Trials can Continue Despite Study, Judges Say

Two men who are facing the death penalty here in Nevada recently had their petitions denied by the state Supreme Court. Prentice Marshall and David Burns both cited a study by the Nevada Legislature on the cost of capital punishment in asking that their death penalty trials be stopped.

On May 28, 2011, the Nevada Legislature approved a bill that authorized an audit of the state’s death penalty. As a part of this study, lawmakers were to evaluate the cost of attorneys, post-conviction proceedings and psychiatric evaluations among other things.

The men asked a judge to delay their trials until after the 2015 legislative session, at which time the state is expected to consider this cost study. At the present time, lawmakers have failed to allocate money for a new death chamber; however, execution orders may still be carried out using the current one.

In making its decision, the Nevada Supreme Court stated there is currently nothing that would prohibit prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, nor were there any restrictions on carrying out a death sentence despite the cost study. This is true even though the state has not executed anyone in nearly eight years.

Marshal is associated with the Wood Gang, and is charged with killing an off-duty police officer during a gun battle in 2009. Burns is charged with killing a woman during a robbery in August 2010, during which time her then 12-year-old daughter was also critically injured. Exactly when these two men will go to trial is not known at this time.