Court rejects death penalty in Clark County murder case | NevadaAppeal.com

Court rejects death penalty in Clark County murder case

The Nevada Supreme Court Thursday granted a petition blocking Clark County prosecutors from seeking death in a murder case.

The court threw out the three “aggravators” district attorneys presented as justification for death sentences against Luis Hidalgo and Anabel Espindola, agreeing with defense lawyers the act of soliciting for someone to commit murder doesn’t qualify and that they didn’t establish the claim the murder was committed for money.

The two were awaiting trial on charges in the murder of Timothy Hadland when they allegedly tried to get someone to murder two witnesses in the case. DAs argued that, if the two were convicted of solicitation for murder, those convictions could then be used as prior felonies involving the use or threat of violence.

Attorneys for the two argued solicitation to commit murder cannot serve as a prior violent felony aggravating factor because it isn’t actually a felony involving the use or threat of violence.

“The elements of solicitation do not involve the use of violence to another regardless of the crime solicited,” the opinion states.

The court also agreed with defense counsel that the third aggravator, murder to receive money or any other thing of value, wasn’t established by the defense.

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The opinion says the charge “does not allege that money or anything of monetary value was implicated.” It contained no evidence of how much money was involved and doesn’t specify how any of the events listed by prosecutors were connected to the actual murder.

The court ordered all three aggravators thrown out.

“As no valid aggravators remain, we conclude the notices of intent to seek the death penalty must be stricken,” the opinion concludes.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.