Family Torn By Grandmother's Murder

Members of James Masterson's extended family, his aunt and uncle among them, sat just a few feet behind him in the small Walker River Justice Court in Yerington Friday morning.

It was the first time they had seen him since he was returned to Nevada to face charges of murdering his grandmother. Feelings among the group are raw, the anger barely below the surface.

"He's no longer family," says his aunt Lethea Love. "I just want him to die."

That won't happen at the hands of the state. Lyon County District Attorney Bob Auer says a full review of the case with all potential enhancements won't legally support a capital case. He's not seeking the death penalty.

It's something Love and other family members say they understand, though they wish the law was different.

Masterson is accused of strangling 72 year old Peggy Herlacher at her home in Silver Springs, then driving her body to Riverbank, California near Modesto, burying it in the backyard of another family member.

He was arrested in Sacramento a few days later driving her car, using her credit cards. Police found some of her possessions and heroin inside the vehicle.

Love says she feels her 22 year old nephew came to Nevada planning to steal from his grandmother and blames some in family in California, including her brother David, for not warning Herlacher of Masterson's drug problem and record of stealing from family members.

"The family is divided," she says. "We just feel he's more interested in what happens to James than what happened to his mother."

Love says she's already thinking about what she might say if he is convicted and she's able to finally face him and give a victim impact statement.

She will have to wait for that opportunity, today their eyes never met.

Masterson entered the courtroom before the family members. After the hearing they were asked to leave before he was escorted out. He stared straight ahead his entire time.

"I wanted him to turn around and look at us," says Love. "He has no soul. He doesn't care."

Judge Michael Fletcher set a preliminary hearing for March 2.


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