A man who pleaded guilty in the beating death of another man outside a Gardnerville casino has been placed on probation.
Douglas District Judge Michael Gibbons on Monday gave Daniel Peters a suspended five-year prison term, ordering him instead to serve that time on probation for the Jan. 19 death of Edward Martinez.
Authorities said Peters, 42, struck Martinez in the face outside Sharkey's Casino after he saw the victim kissing Peters' wife.
Martinez, 41, fell to the ground and struck his head. He refused medical treatment at the scene, but was later flown to Washoe Medical Center where he died about nine hours later.
An autopsy showed he suffered a fractured skull and broken nose.
In a tearful statement, Peters apologized to the victim's family. "As a father, a son, a brother, I still cannot comprehend the pain I've put you through, and I'm sorry," he said.
But the apology didn't console family members, who were angered by the lenient sentence.
"I hope Judge Gibbons didn't let a killer go who can now go out and do it again," Edward Martinez, the victim's father, said outside the courtroom.
Martinez's mother, Sandra Martinez, was outraged. "He gave him a slap on the hand for killing our son," she told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
But Gibbons said he based his decision on several factors, including the victim's initial refusal of medical treatment. He added that Peters has no prior record, is active in the community and is extremely remorseful.
"The chances of this happening again are next to nothing," the judge said. "It happened because people were out drinking and his wife was engaging in certain behaviors ... He was out celebrating his anniversary with his wife," Gibbons said.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins argued for prison time. "The question isn't whether he's contributed to community and feels remorseful. When you take someone's life, you have to pay for it," Perkins argued.
"Loss of liberty is the way we in this society measure out punishment, regardless of how bad he feels about it."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)