Steve Puterski

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May 23, 2013
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Overland murder trial off, hearing Tuesday

The trial of two Idaho men accused of second-degree murder is off and the pair is scheduled to appear at a change of plea hearing Tuesday in District Court.

Kevin and Levi Travis plead not guilty to numerous charges in 2012, and are suspected of killing Harvey Olson and severely injuring Rick Johnson and hurting his wife, Linda Johnson, during a brawl at the Overland Hotel on Jan. 22, 2012.

Churchill County Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills said he could not comment on the case. He said it would be “unwise at this point.”

As a result, Mills did not disclose any possible resolution to the case.

Olson, meanwhile, died Feb. 3, 2012, and the Travises were each charged with one count of principal to second-degree murder to a victim over 60 or older and principal to a crime with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm.

The two Idaho men were bound over to District Court in November 2012 after a preliminary hearing in Justice Court. Reno attorneys David Houston, John Routsis and Cotter Conway represent the men.

Patty Olson testified at the preliminary hearing that her brother was placed in a medically induced coma at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno after the fight. She was with him when he returned to consciousness for a short time several days later.

Linda and Rick Johnson also testified as eyewitnesses to the fatal events. Both said the brawl erupted unexpectedly after sharing numerous drinks with the Travises throughout the night.

According to Rick Johnson, he was blindsided with a punch to the head and knocked to the ground by one of the Travises. The two men then battled with Harvey Olson near the pool table.

Johnson, who said he was a bit dizzy, crawled to the pool table and pulled himself up and came to Olson’s aid. Johnson said he grabbed Kevin Travis and put him in a headlock and dragged Travis about 4 feet away from the pool table. Johnson was then hit in the back of the head, according to his testimony, and knocked unconscious.

Olson, meanwhile, suffered numerous blows from kicks, punches and barstools, according to Linda and Rick Johnson.

In other court news —

A 30-year-old Fallon man charged with drug trafficking agreed to a plea deal on May 6.

William Cross III struck the deal with Churchill County prosecutors on one count of trafficking in a controlled substance, 28 grams or more. He will be sentenced June 11 in District Court.

According to the plea agreement, the state is recommending a sentence of 10-25 years in prison, although a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 10 years could be independently implemented by a judge.

Cross was scheduled for a trial this week, but changed his plea during the May 6 hearing. He was originally charged with two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance, 28 grams or more, and four counts of offer attempt or commission of an unauthorized act relating to a controlled substance near a school or public park.

During a pretrial motion hearing on April 30, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ben Shawcroft said Cross bragged to an undercover police agent that Cross could “get any amount of drugs” and had secured a kilogram of cocaine worth an estimated $45,000 from California, according to the transcript.

In addition, Shawcroft was also worried about the safety of a witness, although Cross made no direct threats toward the source.

Shawcroft said Cross also used his Mercedes Benz as a way to recruit individuals to assist in his criminal activities.

Cross bailed out of the Churchill County Jail in December 2012 after the North Central Narcotics Task Force arrested him on July 25. According to court documents, the trafficking counts allege Cross sold cocaine on July 13 and 19, and marijuana on July 5 and 10.

In January, Cross was arrested by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office for one felony count of abuse, neglect or endangerment of a child. According to the criminal complaint, he allegedly caused a 4-month-old infant unjustifiable physical pain by injuring the child, which resulted in bruises and redness. In March, the DA’s Office dismissed those charges.

If Cross were convicted after a trial of the original charges, he would have faced a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 10 years or 25 years with the possibility of parole after 10 years in prison for each trafficking count. The other four charges carry a penalty of one to six years, although each of those counts posses a mandatory enhancement of one to six years that run consecutively.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Nov 26, 2013 03:01PM Published May 23, 2013 07:15PM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.