Judge upholds pleas of Nevada man in wife slaying, judge shooting

The Reno Police Department released this undated handout photo of Darren Mack, whom they are calling a "person of interest' in the shooting of a family court judge, Monday, June 12, 2006, in Reno, Nev. Judge Chuck Weller was shot in the chest  by a shot or shots that came through his office window at the Mill B. Lane Justice Center. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was reported in serious condition. (AP Photo/Reno Police Department)

The Reno Police Department released this undated handout photo of Darren Mack, whom they are calling a "person of interest' in the shooting of a family court judge, Monday, June 12, 2006, in Reno, Nev. Judge Chuck Weller was shot in the chest by a shot or shots that came through his office window at the Mill B. Lane Justice Center. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was reported in serious condition. (AP Photo/Reno Police Department)

A judge today denied former Reno pawn shop owner Darren Mack's motion to withdraw his pleas to killing his wife and shooting the judge who handled their divorce.

District Judge Douglas Herndon ruled that Mack accepted the plea deal voluntarily and knew the legal ramifications when he pleaded guilty to murdering his wife and the equivalent of no contest to attempted murder in the shooting of the judge.

"The defendant admitted he killed his wife. He admitted he shot the judge," Herndon said in issuing his decision that Mack was not entitled to a "do-over."

"There was no indication whatsoever that there was any issue with him understanding what we were going through in terms of the plea," he said, adding that Mack acted "intelligently" throughout the case.

"He stopped me on multiple occasions to ask for clarifications on matters or raise issues he wanted assurances on," Herndon said.

William Routsis, Mack's current lawyer, said they would appeal.

A month after entering his pleas in November, Mack fired his two former lawyers and hired Routsis to argue his claims that the previous defense team pressured him into the plea agreement against his wishes. Mack said he was vulnerable to the pressure because he lacked sleep, proper food and was dehydrated.

But Herndon said Mack never raised those concerns during the trial and that Mack's allegation that he was "a puppet and would have done anything is completely inconsistent with him engaging in the question and answer process with me and raising issues."

Herndon set a sentencing hearing for Feb. 7-8. Under the earlier plea deal, prosecutors had agreed to recommend a sentence of life in prison with the earliest possible parole after 20 years, though the judge is not bound by that agreement.

Mack, 46, was charged with first-degree murder for the stabbing death of his wife, Charla, in June, 2006.

Associated Press writer Scott Sonner in Reno contributed to this report.

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