Another death sentence upheld in Nevada
The Nevada Supreme Court has dismissed another appeal from Daniel Jones, sentenced to death in Las Vegas for killing a man so he could steal his motorhome.
The court on Thursday rejected arguments from Jones’ attorney that his sentencing by a three-judge panel to death by injection was unconstitutional, as a result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The Nevada court said that may be the case when someone pleads innocent, goes to trial and then is sentenced by a panel of judges. But justices said a judicial sentencing panel was proper in Jones’ case because he pleaded guilty and waived his right to a jury trial.
Jones was convicted of shooting Don Woody to death in July 1989. Jones was later arrested in Iowa while driving Woody’s motorhome.
Jones also was linked but never criminally charged with the murder of a couple in Jacksonville, Fla., after they had invited him to discuss a possible job.
Jones earlier was convicted of aggravated assault for attempting to kill his grandmother by hitting her over the head with a crowbar.
Thursday’s ruling marked the third time the state Supreme Court has turned down an appeal by Jones.
The ruling in Jones’ case followed decisions Wednesday by the state high court to cancel one death sentence and uphold another in cases involving judicial sentencing panels.
In one case, the state high court called for a new penalty hearing for Donte Johnson, convicted of the 1998 execution-style slaying of four men in Las Vegas.
After a jury couldn’t decide on Johnson’s punishment, three judges sentenced him to death.
In upholding Johnson’s murder convictions, justices said evidence against him was overwhelming. But the high court’s unanimous decision said the death sentence imposed in the case couldn’t stand given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
In the other case, the high court unanimously upheld the death sentence ordered for Lawrence Colwell Jr., convicted of strangling Frank Rosenstock, 76, after Colwell’s girlfriend, Merillee Paul, lured Rosenstock to his hotel room to rob him. She got a life term for her part.
Colwell also argued the U.S. Supreme Court decision against death sentences imposed by judges applied in his case. But the Nevada high court said Colwell, like Jones, had pleaded guilty and waived his right to a jury trial.