The Most Talked About Stories of 2016 on

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Although most of them lead to multiple stories, this set of stories were the most viewed and discussed on Nevada Appeal social media channels.

Nevada Supreme Court overturns 2014 murder conviction of Carson City man

Leonardo Cardoza, 27, was convicted for killing 19-year-old Desiree Bragg in 2013, by running her over with his minivan. Her body was crushed against the front of her mother’s house in north Carson City.

In 2014, the court made the decision to sentence Cardoza 20 years to life in prison.

But in April of 2016, the Supreme Court overturned the case based on Cardoza’s explanation. He it was an accident because he was drunk and afraid of Bragg’s fiancee.

According to the Supreme Court, the instruction did not define each of those three elements because his alcohol level was high the night of the incident. In order to convict of first-degree murder, the jury must find the killing willful, deliberate and premeditated.

A date for a new trial is in progress, as Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury filed a petition asking for a full Nevada Supreme Court review of the decision overturning Cardoza’s murder conviction.

Dayton native stops attempted armed robbery in Alaska

Matthew Willhite, 24, of Dayton, was praised for stopping an attempted armed robbery at a mall in Anchorage, Alaska.

He was at the 5th Avenue Mall Jan. 17, 2016 when he came across a security guard wrestling an armed teenage boy, later identified as 18-year-old Yan Bangout, outside of a Buckle clothing store. The teen had allegedly been trying to steal a pair of designer jeans when security attempted to stop him. Willhite confronted Bangout with his gun and demanded to drop his weapon. The suspect surrendered and Willhite said he kept his gun on the man until security was able to fully restrain him in handcuffs.

State orders Carson City’s Silver State Charter School closes — then reopens

The decision to shut down Silver State Charter School was made in January and permanently closed at the end of its school year.

The school’s charter was revoked at a hearing by the State Public Charter School Authority, after an audit revealed what was described as “extensive fiscal mismanagement”.

But in March, the school was given a second chance by Nevada’s Charter School Authority board, as they decided to give the school’s new management to negotiate a one year probationary period to repair financial issues and graduation rates.

Carson City Highway 50 Save Mart to close, reopen as FoodMaxx

The Save Mart supermarket at 3325 Highway 50 East closed on March 26 and transformed into a FoodMaxx. The chain operates 52 stores throughout Northern California. When the store opened in December, it brought new jobs to Carson City.

Nevada Wolf Pack Athletic Director Doug Knuth has a decision to make regarding Brian Polian, says Joe Santoro

One of the most anticipating sports stories of the year was Nevada Athletic Director Doug Knuth’s decision about Wolfpack Coach Brian Polian. Sports writer Joe Santoro made some assumptions on the decision, before Knuth decided to fire Polian in November.

Stephanie Swart: For Mom - the suicide of Marilee Swirczek

The death of the Western Nevada College professor and writer shocked the community, especially when her daughter wrote a special letter dedicated to her in the Nevada Appeal. It was purposely published on Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day.

According to her daughter, Stephanie Swart, Marilee Swirczek died by suicide on July 17 after battling depression for months:

“Short is relative I suppose, to her it was 213 agonizing days. 307,000 grueling minutes. Minutes that were spent reviewing and reliving her life, most often the worst parts of it. Minutes spent in denial of the vibrant and caring person she was. Minutes spent alone in her head destroying her self-confidence, her self-worth and her reason for living.”

Swirczek also was remembered by her collaboration with WNC faculty to create “Always Lost: A Meditation on War,” a multimedia project featuring photos and essays on the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It received national recognition and became a traveling exhibit displayed at more than 50 colleges, universities, and veterans’ organizations throughout the country.

Suspect in Carson City hit and run case receives maximum sentence

The driver involved in a 2013 fatal hit and run was sentenced to prison March, to a maximum of 15 years in prison.

John Gelien convicted of hitting 46-year-old John Boggs in the early morning on Feb. 8, 2013. Boggs was crossing William Street when Gelien hit him with his vehicle. Gelien fled and Boggs died on scene.

Because of Gelien’s long criminal history and multiple probation revocations, it was time Gelien took accountability for his actions. He expressed his remorse to the loved ones of the deceased in court, in which the Boggs family accepted his apologies.

Five, 10, and then 15 arrested in Carson City drug busts

Local authorities busted five men in connection with alleged methamphetamine distribution, following a Tri-Net narcotics raid in February. This was during a four-month investigation.

When they arrested the group at Woodside Drive Stanton Arms Apartments, officers found trafficking level amounts of methamphetamine, which generally means several pounds, and more than $100,000 in cash. Tri-Net Sgt. Dan Johnson said the money was being sent back to Mexico and the department believes the men were involved in a larger drug trafficking organization.

At the same time, deputies conducted two other checks at separate residences in the apartment complex with suspected involvement of the distribution, and contained one other man.

Five arrested in Carson City in major meth bust

Then, in August, local authorities made another drug bust also involving a group of five.

All were arrested near the 1400 block of Monte Rosa Drive after Tri-Net obtained several search and arrest warrants for the occupants inside the residence.

The warrants came from a three month investigation from Tri-Net, however Sgt. Dan Johnson said they’ve been tracking this Mexican drug trafficking ring for close to ten years.

Task force arrests five on numerous drug charges

That wasn’t the last of it; five more people were arrested on drug charges during that same month, as a result of completing numerous controlled purchases of methamphetamine and prescription drugs. Agents arrested those individuals on numerous charges, according to the North Central Narcotic Task Force.

Medical marijuana dispensary to open in Carson City

Carson City’s first medical marijuana dispensary, Rise, opened at the south end of town in September.

Pete Kadens of Green Thumb Industries said the company also has licenses for medical marijuana facilities in Illinois and in Maryland.

He said there are 600 patients registered in Carson City.

Reno’s dispensary, Sierra Wellness Connection, opened a location on Technology Way a month after.

Bateman calls it quits after 37 years at CHS

Bob Bateman — teacher, track coach, football coach and athletic director of Carson High School — retired Aug. 31 and passed the torch to current athletic director Marc Rodina.

Bateman was named the top Nevada athletic director in 2015 and his coaching made this year’s sports the most memorable.

“Right now, I just want to take a couple of months off and then we’ll see what’s going on,” Bateman said. “I definitely want to do something; be involved in something.”

Dust Devils fall and find ‘crime’ scene

After the Dayton Dust Devils lost to the Sparks Railroaders 20-10 in a competitive football game Sept. 2, the torment didn’t stop.

Sparks police were called when Dayton coaches entered their locker room and found several personal items — including wallets, keys and cameras — allegedly stolen.

The Washoe County School District Police Department is investigating the incident as a theft, said district spokeswoman Victoria Campbell in September.

Carson City development moves along in planning process

A major new residential and commercial development that began in April includes single-family homes, senior housing, small businesses, a clubhouse and a pool.

The Vintage at Kings Canyon is a proposed 80-acre planned unit development on Andersen Ranch located on either side of Ormsby Boulevard on Carson City’s westside, for senior living.

Carson City Harley-Davidson will stay closed while parties try to sell

Carson City’s Harley-Davidson dealership closed down as Harley-Davidson Credit Corp filed a lawsuit to the owners, Roberta and Jose Richard Tapia.

HDCC filed it Nov. 17 stating the couple owed them more than $4 million. However, the lawsuit remained on hold.

But a few months later, a familiar name dominated the business; Michael Hohl bought and renamed the store Battle Born Harley-Davidson

As for his son, Tim, motorcycles were his finesse. The current manager of the store has been a Harley rider for years.

Thanks to the Hohl family, even more jobs were added to the area.

Clear Creek and Little Valley Fires

On Oct. 13, a small brush fire ignited in the evening at Clear Creek Avenue and Silver Sage Drive in south Carson City. Crews from all over Northern Nevada worked for several hours battling a brush fire and didn’t finish until later that evening.

But about 24 hours later, the Little Valley Fire ignited, suspected from the prescribed burn from a week prior.

At least over 3400 acres burned, 855 firefighters — 60 engines and 10 hand crews — fought the fire.

The fire closed down Old US 395A and Franktown Road remains closed below 6190 Franktown Road. The fire destroyed 23 homes.

Drug-deal murder case

The six defendants in the murder of an 18-year-old Carson City man entered not guilty pleas in court in March.

Reed Skenandore, 21; Jesus Garcia-Manriquez, 18; Allen Garcia-Manriquez, 19; Jonathan Skenandore, 18; Daniel Lease, 20; and Jacob Huttman, 19 are all charged in connection with the Jan. 11 murder of Grant Watkins.

Watkins was killed after being shot in the abdomen in an early morning drug deal-turned-robbery, detectives said, as he was trying to sell them three ounce of marijuana.

When they appeared in court, it was decided the Garcia-Manriquez brothers and Jacob Huttman, 19, to be charged with the same counts as Skenandore. Huttman is charged with felony accessory to murder and felony conspiracy to commit murder.

Ormsby House tour highlights interior work done to Carson City hotel

The Ormsby House hotel’s vacant space has been bugging locals since it shut down in 2000.

But that changed when the owners finally put the building up for sale in September, interior work finished up.

Politics reporter Geoff Dornan took the tour. It took six months or more to fix all the cracks in the concrete floors of the building.

Workers have since converted the roughly 200 rooms in the original hotel into 104 suites — or one-bedroom apartments or even office space depending on what the eventual buyers want.

The suites in the hotel have been framed and sheetrock has been installed. The rest of the building has also been framed with stacks of sheetrock sitting nearby ready to install.


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