Lawyer Says Accused Caesars Casino Shooter Wrongly Portrayed

By: Ken Ritter AP
By: Ken Ritter AP

A lawyer for a man accused of shooting two people at Caesars Palace complained Friday about the way his client had been characterized in accounts of a fistfight sparked by a group of men insulting his sister.

"He's portrayed as this gun-toting animal, not this protective brother and family man that that he really is," lawyer Scott Holper said of Richard Earl Shepherd, 34.

Holper entered a not guilty plea on Shepherd's behalf in Las Vegas Justice Court to charges including attempted murder, battery, assault and weapons possession in the early Aug. 4 shooting.

The lawyer told Justice of the Peace William Jansen he intends to file motions next week seeking bail. Jansen set a preliminary hearing for Sept. 4.

Shepherd, who appeared in handcuffs and blue jail garb, used a piece of paper to shield his face from television cameras in the courtroom. He surrendered Wednesday to face the felony charges, which could result in a sentence of up to life in prison.

Holper told reporters outside court that Shepherd was being held in protective custody at the Clark County jail, "based on the alleged victims and their background," which the lawyer alleged included gang affiliations.

"We didn't want to have any problems," he said.

Police have said they determined the fight and shooting at the Las Vegas Strip resort was not gang-related.

Holper said he received 69 pages of court filings and police reports from the Clark County district attorney's office, but complained that he had not been provided a copy of videotapes that police say clearly show the fistfight and shooting.

Prosecutor Victoria Villegas told the judge the tapes would be turned over within days.

Police have said the videos, which have not been made public, show Shepherd getting punched and knocked down, boarding an elevator with his sister and going to the third floor of the parking structure, retrieving a gun and returning to the scene of the fight.

Shepherd opened fire with as many as six shots when the elevator
doors opened, police said.

Neither of the wounded men - a 20-year-old and a 23-year-old - had been involved in the fistfight, according to police. Both were treated and released at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Police said one man received a knee wound and the other was shot in the arm.

Shepherd was identified as the shooter by several witnesses, police said.

The incident was the second shooting at a Strip casino in less than a month. Four people were wounded and one person was hurt in a rush to exits after a gunman opened fire at the New York-New York casino early July 6.

Steven Francis Zegrean, 51, of Las Vegas, remains in custody at the Clark County jail on almost $1.5 million bail pending a Sept. 13 preliminary hearing in that case. Zegrean faces attempted murder and weapon charges that could result in a sentence of life in prison.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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