The Nevada Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Wednesday on an appeal by convicted murderer Christopher Fiegehen of Carson City for a new trial.
Fiegehen, 25, is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole in Ely State Prison for the Feb. 10, 2002 death of Alan Chorkey, 50, in the Chorkey home in the Johnson Lane area.
He was sentenced Aug. 21, 2003 after being convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder with a deadly weapon, burglary and home invasion.
Fiegehen's lawyer, Richard Cornell of Reno, raised several issues on appeal including the argument the verdict form should have specified "first degree murder."
The jury found Fiegehen guilty as charged, but did not designate the degree of murder, Cornell said.
Douglas County Deputy District Mark Jackson who prosecuted Fiegehen agreed the verdict form did not specify "first degree."
"My argument is that because Fiegehen was convicted and charged under felony murder, it can only be first degree," Jackson said. "It's a technicality over language."
Cornell also raised questions over whether District Judge Dave Gamble was allowed to sentence Fiegehen instead of the jurors who convicted him.
Fiegehen was convicted of shooting his way into the Chorkeys' home on Feb. 10, 2002, enraged over his breakup with Lorelle Chorkey's daughter, Alane Dockstader.
Fiegehen stabbed Alan Chorkey to death and shot Lorelle Chorkey twice, leaving her for dead.
Lorelle Chorkey, 56, has filed a civil lawsuit against Fiegehen seeking damages for the wrongful death of her husband, negligence, pain and suffering and lost wages.
Cornell asked that the civil lawsuit be delayed pending the outcome of the Supreme Court appeal, but Douglas District Judge Michael Gibbons denied the request.
Cornell said if Fiegehen were granted a new criminal trial and he had testified in the civil proceedings, he could incriminate himself.
The judge said Lorelle Chorkey had the right to a speedy resolution of the civil case and no one could tell how long an appeal might take.
"Although Christopher Fiegehen may be placed in the position of choosing between testifying in these civil proceedings and remaining silent in an effort not to prejudice his criminal case following a successful appeal, these considerations by themselves don't carry the day," Gibbons wrote.
No date has been set for the civil trial.