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February 2, 2013
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Thomas not guilty in Carpet Connection shooting

FALLON — It took the jury about two hours on Friday in the Tenth Judicial District Court to find Keith Alan Thomas not guilty of weapons charges.Thomas, owner of Carpet Connection, was pronounced not guilty of battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm and assault with a deadly weapon. The charges carried a combined sentence of up to 21 years in prison.“On the facts of this case, we were confident that the people of Churchill County would find Keith used reasonable self-defense,” said Thomas’ attorney Steve Evenson.The charges stemmed from a shooting on Aug. 16, 2011, at the business when Thomas of Carson City shot Michael Gallardo of Fernley in the abdomen. Gallardo had come to the store to fight Thomas because Gallardo said his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Savahanna Kelley, was being pressured by Thomas to engage in a sexual relationship.Thomas hugged Evenson and family members shortly after the verdict was read. He declined comment about the case but said, “I’m going to spend some time with my family.”Evenson said the load lifted from Thomas feels good.“It does, as it would for anyone,” Evenson added. “You’re put in a position you don’t want to begin with, and then you are put in subsequent position that you don’t want to be in by actions from the state. It’s a double whammy.” The case centered on Evenson’s approach of self-defense and portrait of Gallardo. The witnesses for the defense, James Kelley, Rusty Lemus and Rod Marty, all testified to receiving threats from Gallardo prior to the shooting.Those threats came in 2006, but Evenson used the testimony to paint Gallardo as a man with a violent history. Evenson also detailed Gallardo’s past as an amateur mixed-martial arts fighter with a background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling. In addition, testimony from Thomas noted Gallardo obtained his concealed weapons permit and usually carried a weapon.The prosecution, meanwhile, aimed at the distance between the two men and access Thomas had to the back doors of the Carpet Connection warehouse. Churchill County Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills questioned Thomas about why he did not go inside and close the garage door or enter the secure structure from one of the doors with key locks.Gallardo and Savahanna Kelley testified for the state and both said after Thomas had shot Gallardo, he ran up to the Fernley man and yelled, “I’m going to blow your (expletive) brains out.”Gallardo admitted he went to the store to confront Thomas.“The facts of this case were poor for the state to begin with, given the aggressor,” Evenson said. “The right result was reached today.”

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Feb 2, 2013 04:50AM Published Feb 2, 2013 04:49AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.