Family members of Sammy Resendiz, a Carson City man beaten to death in August 1998, said Wednesday they are unhappy with the tactics and slow progress of trial.
Jose Resendiz, brother of Sammy, and family friend Jody Hernandez went to the Carson City Courthouse on Wednesday seeking answers, and attempting to shed light on Sammy's character.
Foremost on their list of grievances was a decision Feb. 18 by Judge Michael Griffin that eliminated the possibility of first-degree murder convictions for the 10 defendants accused in the case. Motion hearings for seven of the defendants are scheduled for Monday and Friday of next week.
"We are very disappointed that that charges were dropped from first- to second-degree murder," Hernandez said. "I want to see at least two get the death penalty."
Jose, 33, concurred. "Why these guys did what they did, and then they are out? It's not right."
Fondi said that because the defendants were charged with murder during the commission of a burglary, it could not be interpreted as first-degree murder.
District Attorney Noel Waters, prosecutor in the case, said he has filed an appeal of the decision with the Nevada Supreme Court, but no decision has been made. He was unable to meet with the pair on short notice, but said a meeting is scheduled for Friday.
Fear that the seriousness of this crime might be overlooked in public opinion provoked Hernandez and Resendiz to tell their side of the story.
Both shed tears as they recalled Sammy's life and the violent nature of his death.
"Even as recklessly as he was taken out, I think of Sammy now and I think of love," Hernandez said. Sammy, 25 at the time of his death, was the godfather of her children.
His affiliation with a local gang shaded public perception of him, "almost like he's being overlooked now," she said.
"There is nothing more in the papers than 'Sammy was an ex gang-member'," Hernandez said. "But that doesn't describe him. He hadn't been affiliated with a gang for three years."
Jose describes Sammy as a devoted father, constantly with his children and reformed from the life that he once led. Jose takes care of Sammy's son Sammy, age 7, and his daughter Gabby, age 5. The children do not understand what is happening.
"Sometimes they ask where Sammy is," he said. "They ask if he is in Mexico and if he is coming home soon."
Sammy and Jose's parents are not aware of the circumstances of Sammy's death. When his body was sent to Mexico for burial, Jose said, he told his parents their son died in a car accident. "That's all they know," he said.
Jose said he has been seeking legal representation for a wrongful death lawsuit. Up to this point he has not been able to secure a volunteer attorney.
"You figure that the money that Sammy would have earned is no longer there," Hernandez said. "We want to make sure that the money is there to provide for the children. That's only logical."