High court rejects petitions in 3 murder, 3 sex cases

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The Nevada Supreme Court has rejected petitions in three murder cases and three cases involving sex crimes against children.

Juan Manuel Valenzuela was convicted in August 1999 of first-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms without parole. He petitioned for a new trial, arguing his lawyers committed a variety of errors including allowing prosecutors to make statements that weren't supported by evidence.

But the court ruled there was testimony supporting the claims, including that Valenzuela and the victim had a knife fight and that he attacked the victim with a baseball bat a week before the murder.

There was also testimony he had a revolver in his waistband after the killing and confessed to the crime.

Similarly, Raymond Gene Phenix was convicted of murder with a deadly weapon and sentenced to two life sentences without parole in May 1995. He claimed the state deliberately concealed evidence another individual had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess stolen property belonging to the victim.

The court ruled it has already considered most of the arguments he raised and ruled on several procedural claims. His petition was rejected.

Daniel W. Corcoran was convicted of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to life with the possibility of parole in 1997. The high court ruled a similar petition was rejected in August 2000 and that there was no error in denying Corcoran's petition.

The court also rejected petitions in three sex cases, all involving minors.

Edward Finley was convicted of sexual assault on a child under 14 and sentenced to life with possible parole after 20 years. He claimed he was never informed of his right to an attorney before police obtained his statement but the court said that issue was properly handled at the district court. The high court also rejected his other claims his trial counsel was ineffective.

Anthony Guarini was convicted of three counts of lewdness with a minor and two counts of attempted sexual assault on a minor. He was sentenced to five consecutive prison terms of up to 12 years each.

He pleaded guilty but later attempted to withdraw the plea. The court ruled it would not reverse a district court determination on the validity of a plea "absent clear abuse of discretion" -- which the justices agreed wasn't present in this case.

Finally, the court rejected a petition from Jayson Neil Hoskins, who was convicted in September 2001 of kidnapping and attempted sexual assault on a minor under age 14. He was sentenced to life in prison.

His request for a hearing was denied on procedural grounds since it was filed more than a year after conviction.


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