Nevada Supreme Court to consider death penalty dispute

In this May 20, 2019, file photo, Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman from El Salvador appears in...
In this May 20, 2019, file photo, Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman from El Salvador appears in Washoe District Court in Reno, Nev. Nevada’s Supreme Court wants to hear directly from lawyers on both sides in a death penalty dispute over how much more time public defenders should have to try to prove the Salvadoran immigrant is intellectually disabled and can't be executed if convicted of four 2019 Nevada killings. The justices have scheduled oral arguments April 7, 2021, on one of two appeals filed by lawyers representing Martinez-Guzman, 22.(Andy Barron | Andy Barron/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool, File)
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 1:26 PM PDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 4:03 PM PDT
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP & KOLO) - Lawyers for a Salvadoran immigrant accused of killing four people in two counties in 2019 are urging Nevada’s Supreme Court to overturn for a second time a Washoe County judge’s ruling that he can be tried for all the crimes in district court in Reno.

Prosecutors countered Wednesday that Washoe County has the authority to conduct one trial because Wilber Ernest Martinez-Guzman killed all four victims with the same gun he stole from a Reno couple, Jerry and Sherry David.

Two of the four victims were murdered in Douglas County, Connie Koontz, 56, and Sophia Renken, 74. Koontz was the first victim found. Renken was found dead a few days later.

The justices rejected the prosecution’s argument last March and ordered the district judge to revisit the matter. But she ruled again in September proper jurisdiction had been established.

There is no word when the Justices will announce their decision in the case.

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