Verdicts upheld in three murder cases

The state Supreme Court has upheld convictions and sentences in three murder cases.

Johnny Hughes Walker Jr. was convicted of killing Maureen McConaha in Las Vegas in October 1997. She was shot five times in the head.

Walker was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison. He appealed, saying testimony from his cellmate at the county jail should not have been admitted. He also protested testimony by other witnesses in the case, but the high court ruled there were no errors by the district court in handling those issues.

He also protested the district court's decision to allow evidence that Walker and his brother had been involved in an earlier shooting. The court refused to overturn the conviction on that ground as well.

The court also rejected a petition on behalf of Frank Salvatore D'Agostino.

D'Agostino was convicted in December 1990 of first-degree murder, robbery and arson by a Las Vegas jury. He argued his trial lawyer failed to investigate reports that he never confessed to a jailhouse informant -- that the other inmate looked through his paperwork without permission and made up the story.

The high court ruled D'Agostino failed to demonstrate that would have made any difference because there was other "highly incriminating evidence and testimony" in the case.

The court also refused to overturn Gary Shepard's murder conviction in Washoe County. He argued the court made several errors in handling jury instructions, including instructing the jury that the use of a deadly weapon can imply intent.

The high court rejected the arguments, noting that the jury instructions were quoted directly from the Nevada Supreme Court's case law on the issue.


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