Peter Quinn Elvik should get a new trial because his lawyer didn't do his job, the state Supreme Court was told Tuesday.
Elvik was 14 when he shot and killed William Gibson, 63, at the Carson City shooting range. He was convicted after an eight-day trial when jurors refused to believe the shooting was self-defense.
Appeal lawyer Thomas Michaelides told the court the defense is an example of the inadequate legal representation Elvik received.
"There were no facts to support self-defense in this case," he said. "Gibson was shot in the back."
He said Elvik's confessions should have been suppressed because of his age, and he questions whether the boy made the statements voluntarily and knew the impact they would have on his case.
The attorney said Elvik's mother was coerced into signing papers allowing the boy to be interrogated by police. He said Elvik's defense attorney failed to bring case law that would have supported allowing a psychologist to testify about Elvik's mental state, telling Judge Michael Griffin that he forgot the supporting cases.
Michaelides said a proper defense would have brought up Elvik's age and state of mind, his drug use during the crime and other factors. And he said without the confessions, the outcome might have been different.
But prosecutor Anne Langer, representing Carson City, said there is nothing in the appeal that would have changed the jury's mind. She described Elvik as extremely smart and said he deliberately waited for a victim that morning at the shooting range.
"He was lying in wait for the first person to come in so he could shoot him and steal his car," she said.
Langer said the trial lawyer did a good job, but that "any way you cut it, the facts were with the prosecution."
Elvik was sentenced to life in prison and will have a chance at parole after 40 years.
The high court will rule later on the case.