March 5 Execution Date Set for Killer

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A March 5 execution date was set Wednesday for Daryl Mack, a Nevada prison inmate who was doing time for one Reno murder when he was convicted on the basis of DNA evidence of a second killing.

Jackie Crawford, director of the state Department of Corrections, said Mack's execution by injection next week is scheduled to take place at the Nevada State Prison here. He's currently at the state's maximum-security prison near Ely.

Mack, 45, was sentenced to death in May 2002 following his conviction for strangling Betty Jane May, 55, at a southwest Reno boarding house in 1988. Before being linked to May's murder, he was serving a no-parole life term for the 1994 murder of Kim Parks in a Reno motel.

Washoe County prosecutors said the trial for May's murder marked the first time in Washoe County that a murder was solved and prosecuted relying solely on DNA evidence.

The death sentence was imposed by a three-judge panel. One of those judges, Washoe District Judge James Hardesty, is now considering a petition from Mack to stop his execution.

In his petition, filed Tuesday, Mack asked Hardesty for a stay and also requested a court-appointed lawyer because he had no money to hire one on his own.

Besides Mack, prison officials may soon schedule a date for the execution of Lawrence Colwell Jr., who admitted robbing and killing a Florida tourists in Las Vegas in 2001.

If the executions occur, they'd be the first in Nevada since April 2001, when Sebastian Bridges was put to death. Executions are held in the state's old gas chamber, although lethal gas hasn't been used since 1979, when convicted killer Jesse Bishop was executed. Injections were used for eight executions that followed.

All but one of the condemned inmates, Richard Moran who died in 1996, cleared the way for their executions by voluntarily giving up any appeal rights.

Clark County District Judge Donald Mosley issued a warrant last week in Colwell's case for his execution the week of March 15 after Colwell said he didn't want to continue appealing.

On Wednesday, the order was modified to push back Colwell's execution to the week of March 22 - and Colwell again said he wants no further appeals.

Colwell was convicted of killing Frank Rosenstock in March 1994, at the Tropicana hotel-casino in Las Vegas. The slaying occurred after Colwell's girlfriend, Merillee Paul, lured Rosenstock to his room, then called Colwell to carry out a robbery.

Colwell strangled Rosenstock with a belt. Paul pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Colwell also pleaded guilty and later represented himself during a sentencing hearing before a three-judge panel in 1995.

The use of a three-judge panel in capital cases has come under scrutiny in recent years. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled juries, not judges, should decide whether a death sentence should be imposed.

The ruling has led to at least one death sentence being overturned in Nevada.