RENO -- A Reno man charged in the execution-style slayings of a drug-dealer friend and a woman as they slept in a Reno apartment last October escaped a murder conviction, but was found guilty of burglary.
Frank Ibarra, 22, who would have faced the death penalty if convicted in the killing, could receive a maximum of 10 years in prison on the burglary count at his sentencing Jan. 28.
The bodies of Steve "Woody" Sanchez, 28, and Nichole Rusk, 19, were found in her apartment Oct. 19, 2000. Each had been shot once in the head as they slept on a couch.
Some 20 of the victims' family members wept loudly as the court clerk read the jury's verdicts, then left the courtroom. They continued screaming in the hallway until sheriff's deputies ushered them away.
Ibarra stood quietly with his lawyers and cried as the verdicts were read. His parents hugged each other.
The jury rejected the prosecution argument that Ibarra shot Sanchez over drugs he allegedly ordered stolen from Ibarra's room. The panel also rejected a last minute prosecution argument that Ibarra was an accomplice and thus responsible for Sanchez's murder even if he didn't pull the trigger.
Ibarra testified that he was sleeping in Rusk's apartment the night of the slaying when he awoke to the sound of the gunshot that killed Sanchez. He then watched a man place a pillow over Rusk's head and shoot her.
McKenna and lawyer Paul Quade had argued Sanchez was killed by the Mexican Mafia over a drug debt.