A Carson City man serving life for rape has filed a motion claiming the evidence that might clear him is being mishandled by the Washoe District Attorney's office.
But Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick rejected any suggestion the evidence has been tampered with and said the claims by Nolan Klein are nothing new.
Klein has maintained throughout that he is innocent of the 1989 rape in Sparks. He fought for and got an evidentiary hearing in 1998 saying two cigarette butts found at the scene could prove his innocence if tested for DNA using new technology.
He demanded his conviction be overturned because the filters from those cigarettes were suddenly missing from the evidence. But Washoe District Judge Charles McGee ruled that wasn't enough to overturn the conviction and Klein appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Last week, Klein filed another motion demanding a hearing into why more evidence has apparently either disappeared or been tampered with.
Klein says the new evidence problems were discovered because he is trying to sell his story to a book publisher. Treva Hearne, a lawyer working for both Klein and other authors, as well as the publisher, found the problems while investigating whether the manuscript was accurate.
"When I requested the evidence from the trial of Nolan Klein, CR 88-1692 and the post conviction hearing, I was told that exhibits 1-10 were missing from the 1998 hearing," said Hearne in an affidavit filed with Klein's motion. "One week later, I was told that those exhibits were found."
She further states that tapes disappeared from the evidence file, but later turned up, and that more of the cigarette evidence was now missing.
"When I observed the cigarette evidence, I observed one shred of paper and some tobacco flakes in the envelope," she said in the affidavit. "The envelopes containing the rape kit, the cigarette pieces, had been opened and the tape had been split."
Klein's motion asks an order to protect the remaining evidence in his case, for a hearing into what happened to the cigarette evidence and why the sealed evidence had been opened.
He also asks a hearing to determine whether any of that evidence has been tested by the Washoe DA or anyone else without his knowledge and, if so, for access to the results of those tests.
"Every single issue Nolan Klein has raised either personally or through his sister has been inspected, has been checked," said Gammick. "We have had allegations out of him for five years. There's nothing new being alleged there." He said the envelopes were opened because that evidence was removed in court to present to the jury.
And Gammick said the evidence room carefully stores and protects evidence from thousands of cases.
"We have evidence in there that goes back 30 and 40 years," he said adding that there are extensive security controls to protect and preserve that evidence.