Death sentence upheld in 1991 shooting and burning of Las Vegas girl. | NevadaAppeal.com

Death sentence upheld in 1991 shooting and burning of Las Vegas girl.

by staff

The death sentence for a man accused of killing and burning an 18-year-old Las Vegas woman was upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.

The Nevada Supreme Court has affirmed the sentence ordered for Robert Royce Byford in the shooting and burning death of Monica Wilkins nearly 10 years ago.

The sentence was imposed by juries in two different trials. The first was tossed out after Byford and co-defendant Christopher Garth Williams convinced the high court their Fifth Amendment rights had been violated in the first trial.

The second time, Byford was sentenced to death and Williams to life without possible parole. There was testimony that Byford had told more than one person he shot and killed the 18-year-old girl and then burned her body because he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.

In addition, there was extensive testimony from a third person there that night, Todd Smith, who pleaded guilty as an accessory in the killing.

Byford based his appeal on complaints that Williams introduced Byford’s own testimony during the first trial as part of his defense. The gist of that testimony was Byford’s claim he only aided in concealing the crime and his admission he had a prior criminal record.

He said he waived his right to remain silent in the first trial but never knew that testimony could be used if there was ever a second trial. He also argued his trial should have been separated from Williams’s trial and argued that the pictures of the victim’s body were highly prejudicial.

The high court unanimously rejected all his arguments and ruled that the death sentence was not excessive. They upheld the conviction and sentence.