YERINGTON, NV - The trial of a man accused of killing five people in 2013 got underway in Yerington Thursday July 16, 2015 with an unusual twist--the defense agreeing with the prosecutor.
Jeremiah Bean is charged with conducting a weekend-long crime spree in May of 2013, murdering two elderly Fernley couples in their own homes, and killing another man during a carjacking near Mustang. The evidence against him is daunting.
"This is not going to be a who-dunnit," Lyon County Deputy District. Attorney Jeremy Reichenberg told the jury in his opening statement. "The evidence will show you a picture of a person who murdered five people. Each murder more violent than the last."
Bean apparently described the crimes in an interview with investigators and inadvertently recorded a description of one of the murders on a cell phone in his pocket.
He had been expected to plead guilty as part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, but surprised all, including his own attorney by changing his plea.
Reichenberg said Bean told friends the motive behind the first two murders was simple.
"He told them the reason why he murdered Bob and Dorothy Pape was it was Friday, he was broke and he needed to come up with some cash."
There was no argument on the facts from Bean's attorney Richard Davies.
"I'm going to stand here and tell you right now everything Mr. Reichenberg told you is absolutely true."
After that surprising open, Davies went on to describe his client as the product of a difficult childhood. Gang membership by age nine. Quitting school and smoking methamphetamine by the 6th grade and finally becoming part of what Davies called a "pack of jackals" in the Fernley area, a group of youths who, he said, lived only to "steal and get high."
By May of 2013, Davies said Bean was estranged from his family, living in the Fernley home of a friend, Patrick Brady.
He said his client picked out Bob and Dorothy Pape as elderly, vulnerable targets, robbed and killed them.
Slamming down his fist for evidence, Davies said "In a cowardly manner he took the life of Dorothy Pape for no good reason."
Taking items from the home, Davies said his client pawned them through a friend in Sparks. Then, Davies said, he bought heroin and partied with friends.
Later that day, Davies said, he drove to a Mound House brothel, buying some time with a prostitute. Returning to Sparks, he said he joked about all that had happened. By now, Davies said, Bean had told six people about the murders.
Two among the "pack of jackals" in Fernley, he said, returned repeatedly to the Pape home to steal more, using the home, he said, "like an ATM" while their bodies lay underneath a pile of clothes in a closet.
Three in Sparks who knew of the crimes just helped Bean spend the money on drugs.
"Did they pick up the phone? All they did was take the money, buy drugs and smoke them."
The series of crimes didn't end with the deaths of the Papes. Getting the pickup he had taken from their home stuck in a ditch near Mustang on I-80, Davies and Reichenberg said he flagged down Eiliazar Graham, who was reporting for work at a nearby gas station, shot Graham in the face, taking his truck and driving back to Fernley.
The next day, trying to get out of town, Bean, he said, killed another couple, Angie Duff and Lester Leiber, in a home while attempting to rob them.
Davies' account of the crimes did not differ from Reichenberg's and he made no excuses for his client.
"Cowardly, despicable," he said walking back to where Bean was seated and pointing at his client. "The horrible acts of a man who had lost all connection with reality and any ounce of human decency."
"I'm going to make you a couple of promises," he told the jury "I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not going to waste your time. I'm not going to ask you anything unreasonable. "In exchange, when it comes time for me to ask you to spare his life, I'm going to ask you to give me a fair shake"
That brought a gasp from someone in the courtroom, an objection from the prosecution and an admonishment from Judge John Schlegelmilch, who told Davies he knew better than to bring a mitigation argument about sentencing into the trial at this point. The judge told the jury to disregard the statement.
With three weeks of testimony to come, Davies has already signaled he is not going to test the guilt of his client, but will argue others, some of whom are expected to testify, share some measure of guilt and, if there's a conviction, he will make an argument to spare Jeremiah Bean the death penalty his client put back on the table.