Killer of Northern Nevada girls dies while serving sentence

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A man convicted of killing two local girls has died.

The Nevada Department of Corrections reports 56-year-old Ricky Sechrest died at Carson Tahoe Hospital November 30, 2017.

Sechrest had been housed in the Regional Medical Facility at Northern Nevada Correctional Center before being admitted to the hospital.

An autopsy will be scheduled.

Sechrest was 22 years old when he kidnapped and murdered 10-year-old Maggie Schindler and 9-year-old Carly Villa in 1983, bludgeoning them with a shovel and leaving their bodies in Lagomarsino Canyon east of Reno. He was sentenced to death.

His case crept through the court system on appeal in the years that followed. In 1994 he came within days of execution, but came off Nevada's Death Row.

A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling centered on remarks by then-District Attorney Mills Lane during jury selection and in his closing arguments. Lane repeatedly told jurors that the selection of life without the possibility of parole did not mean Sechrest would spend his life behind bars, that the state Pardons Board could always change the sentence, even release Sechrest to kill again.

In its ruling, the court called those statements "outrageous" and inaccurate, saying they did not even fit Nevada law at the time.

They also noted Sechrest's attorney did nothing to object and the judge let the statements stand. His attorney also permitted a psychiatrist originally hired by the defense to eventually testify for the prosecution calling Sechrest an incurable sociopath.

Sechrest also appealed his conviction, arguing he had not been informed of his right to have an attorney present when questioned by police. The court ruled, however, that he had waived those rights and had willingly given a confession to Reno police.

1985 Sechrest court appeal appearance
1985 Sechrest court appeal appearance