An attorney for condemned Nevada inmate Randy Moore told the state Supreme Court on Tuesday that Moore was unfairly convicted in a 1984 double-murder case that prosecutors labeled the work of teenage devil-worshipers.
Attorney JoNell Thomas argued that Randolph Moore faced "a huge amount of prosecutorial misconduct" and was represented by an attorney with hearing problems who heard "killer bees" during courtroom discussion about "killer weed" smoked by defendants in
the Las Vegas case.
By mistakenly referring during the trial to a pretrial hearing on the teens' devil-worshiping - a hearing that trial jurors hadn't been aware of - Moore's lawyer effectively helped the prosecution, Thomas added.
Thomas also said Moore faced four aggravating circumstances that resulted in his sentence, and two of those "aggravators" must be erased under terms of the state high court's previous decisions to limit the criteria that prosecutors can use to seek the death penalty.
Steven Owens, chief deputy Clark County district attorney, argued that Moore already has had three penalty hearings, and there's no need for a fourth penalty hearing or a new trial.
"It's been 22 years," he added. "I don't know how long we can keep these cases kicking around."
Owens also said the hearing loss problem brought up by Thomas wasn't that bad, adding that the trial lawyer had requested clarification when he missed something. He said the "killer bee" incident could have happened even to a lawyer with good hearing.
Regarding the argument about prosecutorial misconduct, Owens said statements by prosecutors during the trial wouldn't have made any difference and that Moore still would have been convicted.
Moore and Dale Flanagan both got death sentences for the murders of Flanagan's grandparents, Colleen and Carl Gordon.
Two other defendants got life terms and another man received probation.
Flanagan lived in a trailer behind the Gordons' house.
Police investigators determined that he plotted with the others to kill
the Gordons so he could collect insurance money and get a big inheritance.
The case has dragged through the court system for years.
Appeals from both Moore and Flanagan were rejected by the state Supreme Court in 1988, but their death sentences were reversed because of prosecutorial misconduct.
A second jury returned a verdict of death for the men, but the state Supreme Court granted them another hearing in 1993 after ruling that prosecutors should not have been allowed to admit evidence about Satan worship.
They were again sentenced to death, and the high court upheld those sentences in 1996.