Attempted murder conviction overturned
The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned a Carson City man’s convictions on charges of persuading two teenagers to attempt to kill his wife, who survived despite having her throat slashed as she slept.
On Monday, the high court ruled in favor of Allen Dwight Wood, who is serving a term of up to 33 years for the 1996 attack on Lisa Wood. Justices said out-of-court statements that implicated him were improperly admitted at his trial.
However, the Supreme Court rejected Wood’s claim that Nevada’s ”fast-track” criminal appeal process is unconstitutional. The system was set up to speed appeals and reduce a big backlog of court cases.
Wood was convicted of attempted murder, soliciting a murder and conspiring to commit a murder. All three convictions were overturned by the court.
Justice Bill Maupin dissented, saying he would have upheld Wood’s convictions for attempted murder and conspiracy. Despite problems with witness statements – including lies by most of the witnesses – he said there was overwhelming evidence of Wood’s guilt.
Two teenagers, Brian Bardin and Justin Anderson, said they were pressured by Wood to attempt kill his wife. Bardin was tried as an adult and wound up with a five-year prison term for trying to kill the victim.
During the proceedings, evidence that one of the boys commissioned to commit the murder told a third party about his plans was unconstitutionally admitted into the proceedings, the court said.
They cited a 1996 case, saying “an out-of-court statement by an alleged co-conspirator may be admitted into evidence against a defendant, the existence of a conspiracy must be established by independent evidence, and the statement must have been made during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
The court contends that because the third party was not part of the conspiracy, the testimony should not have been admitted.
Errors in prosecution of the trial do not automatically guarantee that a conviction will be overturned on appeal, the court wrote, but in this case the testimony may have had an overwhelming impact on the outcome of the case.
“We cannot conclude that the erroneous admission of Bardin’s statement via Greene’s testimony was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt,” the court wrote.