Supreme Court rejects Mizpah killer's appeal

The Nevada Supreme Court has rejected Valerie Moore's appeal of her conviction in the Mizpah Hotel fire.

Moore pleaded guilty to one count of first degree arson and 12 counts of murder in the Halloween 2006 fire that destroyed the 84-year-old residential hotel in downtown Reno.

She entered the plea to avoid a possible death penalty but maintained her innocence at her March sentencing even while apologizing to the families of victims.

Washoe District Judge Brent Adams gave her the maximum possible, ordering 12 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders.

Her sole contention in the appeal was that Adams abused his discretion by imposing an excessive sentence.

"Moore argues consecutive sentences trivialize the loss of life because she will never serve a sentence for 11 of her victims," the order affirming her conviction and sentence states.

But prosecutors pointed out she stipulated to consecutive sentences in her plea bargain.

The order by justices Bill Maupin, Michael Cherry and Nancy Saitta also stated that Moore was on parole for second-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon when she torched the hotel.

Quoting from Adams when he sentenced Moore, the high court noted that "the result of the defendant's conduct in this case is the death of 12 human beings and substantial injury to 73 other persons directly affected" as well as family members of all the victims.

"Accordingly, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion at sentencing."

Investigators said Moore put a mattress against the door of another Mizpah tenant who she was mad at and set fire to it.

Moore previously served 18 years in the Nevada prison on a second-degree murder conviction. She was paroled in 2005.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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