Nevada Supreme Court rejects petitions by two death row inmates | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Supreme Court rejects petitions by two death row inmates

Geoff Dornan | gdornan@nevadaappeal.com
Nevada Supreme Court.
File/AP | AP

The Nevada Supreme Court has unanimously rejected petitions by two of Nevada’s longest-serving death row inmates.

John Bejarano, 58, has been on death row since 1988. Robert Ybarra Jr., 66, has been on death row since 1981.

Bejarano was convicted of the March 1987 murder of Reno cab driver Roland Wright, shooting him twice in the head with a sawed off rifle. In addition to murder, he was convicted of the deadly weapon enhancement, an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen vehicle.

After the Washoe County jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts, he told them, “pray to God I don’t get out some day.”

Ybarra was convicted of raping and murdering Nancy Griffith, 16, near Ely in September 1979. He poured gasoline on the victim and set her on fire but she was able to identify him before she died.

In addition to murder, he was convicted of sexual assault with substantial bodily harm and kidnapping with substantial bodily harm. He received life sentences for those crimes on top of the death sentence.

Both men appealed, citing a Florida case that concluded trial courts must instruct jurors the state must prove aggravating circumstances in a death case are not outweighed by mitigating circumstances. Justices unanimously rejected that argument. They also pointed out both men have repeatedly petitioned for habeas relief and that, therefore, the petitions are denied as successive and barred absent demonstration of good cause and actual prejudice.

They ruled that isn’t the case in these two petitions.