Sparks Police Search Included Hunt for Murder Contract

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The investigation by Sparks police into the shooting death of Miles Deriso included a probe of a man's home for evidence of a contract killing, according to search warrants.

Deriso, the ex-husband of Sparks Judge Susan Deriso, died Dec. 1 after being shot once in the abdomen at his home.

Miles Deriso went to a neighbor for help and said that he'd been shot by a man named Jerry who said that "he was hired to kill him."

Moments after Deriso's neighbor called 911, police found Jerry Harkins, a 54-year-old ex-felon who lives nearby, down the street. Harkins had minor stab wounds and told police that Deriso stabbed him, but he denied shooting Deriso.

Sparks police haven't listed Harkins as a suspect, but say he's a strong focus of the investigation. Police have ruled out Judge Deriso as a suspect.

Sparks police searched Harkins' home on Dec. 5 armed with two search warrants, one of which sought "correspondence showing, describing or detailing plans or agreements to kill Miles Deriso."

The Daily Sparks Tribune obtained copies of the warrants on Wednesday.

Evidence sought in the search warrants included .32-caliber bullets or a handgun, latex gloves, receipts or other documents showing handgun ownership, and a Hewlett-Packard computer.

Items confiscated by police from Harkins' home include the computer, a leather belt with 15 rounds of ammunition, plastic gloves, and various boxes of ammunition, the newspaper said.

"The searches didn't turn up anything that's earth-shattering," Sparks Detective Commander Bob Schmidt said. "Some of the things taken out of Harkins' house we sent to (the crime) lab."

As for the murder-for-hire, "we tried to confirm that; we can't," Schmidt said. "You've got to look at all the possibilities. That's something that came up. So we had to look."