Man sentenced to 30 years for killing wife in Fernley
November 3, 2008
YERINGTON ” On Monday, just four days after he succumbed to cancer, Curt Hagedorn’s words filled a Yerington courtroom as a letter he wrote before his death was read to the killer of his daughter, Shelby Joanette.
“When I found my daughter on the side of the road, lying on her back with her eyes closed … I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” read Lyon County District Attorney Bob Auer. “I saw a massive amount of blood pouring out her head. It was only 15 minutes after I watched her walk out of the house, the happiest person in the world.”
Michael Fixer Newcastle, who changed his name from Michael Young 10 weeks before he killed his estranged wife, sat quietly at the defense table as Joanette’s sister, mother and his maternal aunt testified.
Prior to Lyon County District Judge David Huff sentencing Newcastle to 20 years to life, with an additional 10 years for using a deadly weapon, Newcastle, 36, of Las Vegas, apologized for his actions.
“I don’t have a command of the English language that would adequately say how sorry I am,” he said. “I will carry this tragedy of shame and regret and I am truly sorry.”
On May 5, 2007, Joanette, 36, left her parents’ house in Fernley to tend to her horses. A mile away from home her truck died and Joanette called her father.
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Seven minutes later, Hagedorn arrived at his daughter’s truck where he found her shot twice in the head. Joanette languished in the hospital for two days before she died of her injuries.
Newcastle was arrested in Nye County on the night of the shooting and confessed to the crime. He pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree murder in June.
Joanette’s mother, Dona Hagedorn, told her former son-in-law that her daughter’s spirit was still with her.
“God has a mission for all his children. Shelb’s was to bring her family back to the Lord for healing,” she said. “I forgive you Mike for my healing. May God have mercy on your soul.”
Joanette sister, Lori Hagedorn Mosca, talked of the affect her only sibling’s killing had on their father.
“(His) health has suffered greatly due to finding his daughter shot to death on the side of the road … no father should ever have to go through what mine has gone through,” she said.
Newcastle’s aunt, Mary Crisione, asked the judge to consider her nephew’s lack of a criminal history in sentencing him.
She cried as she recounted that Newcastle and Joanette spent the Christmas before Joanette’s death at Crisione’s Massachusetts home.
“Shelby was the love of his life,” she said.
Yet, despite defense attorney John Arrascada’s assertion that Newcastle pleaded guilty to accept responsibility, District Attorney Bob Auer laid out the case against Newcastle.
Auer said the killing was calculated. He said that Newcastle reinstated a $250,000 life insurance policy against Joanette just weeks after she canceled the policy and only days before he gunned her down.
Auer said there was a “bleaching” element found in the gas tanks of both of Joanette’s vehicles that ate through the gas lines rendering the vehicle inoperable.
He said one of the gun shots Joanette sustained showed gunpowder in the wound, which would indicate that it came from a close range.
He explained that after the killing, Newcastle tried to exchange custom rims for stock rims in an effort to hide his involvement.
Auer called Joanette a cowgirl, noting her upbringing in a “ranching lifestyle,” her love of horses and barrel racing.
He referred to Newcastle as a gambler who moved to Las Vegas from California to pursue his love of the Vegas nightlife. The two met at a rodeo and married in 2005. In the first part of 2007, Joanette left Newcastle, returned to her parents’ home and filed divorce papers.
“Eventually reality set in that the cowgirl and the gambler were not compatible. Financial problems hurt the couple’s business interest and forced the defendant to sell his house to pay the bills,” said Auer of the couple’s separation in the early part of 2007. “The defendant’s anger grew over the financial debt he was left with and Shelby’s rejection of (him). The defendant decided he must kill Shelby and thereafter planned the murder.”
Judge Huff also ordered Newcastle to pay $2,918 for Joanette’s funeral expenses.