Taukitoku Murder Trial Starts

RENO - The murder trail of Samisoni Taukitoku started Monday, more than a year after a three people were killed at a Halloween party in Southwest Reno. It started with jury selection in the morning hours and quickly moved on to opening arguments by the afternoon. The trial stems from a shooting on October 28, 2007 that left three men dead.

Witnesses say a group of people including Samisoni Taukitoku and Saili Manu were at the party on Heatheridge Lane for a short time before violence broke out. According to reports, Taukitoku and Manu robbed former UNR basketball player Tyrone Hanson after bumping into him on the dance floor. Witnesses claim the two men continued to beat Hanson even aiming a pistol at his head. According to court documents, the men then fled the party. As they were leaving several shots were fired into the crowd.

Three people were killed by those gunshots. The victims were 21-year-old Charles Coogan Kelly, 23-year-old Derek Kyle Jensen, and 23-year-old Nathan Viljoen.

Prosecutors made a decision earlier this year not to seek the death penalty in this case. Taukitoku is facing three counts of open murder and 4 counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Saili Manu, who was also arrested in connection with the case, has already pleaded guilty to two-counts of assault with a deadly weapon. His sentencing is scheduled for December 12.


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