Death taken off table in grandmother killing |

Death taken off table in grandmother killing

by F.T. Norton

The Lyon County district attorney has decided not to seek the death penalty against a California man accused of killing his Silver Springs grandmother.

“Myself and two other lawyers looked at the aggravated and mitigating factors of the case and based on that review I’ve decided it’s not a death penalty case,” District Attorney Bob Auer said Wednesday.

James Masterson, 22, stands accused of robbing and killing his paternal grandmother, then stuffing her body into the trunk of her car and burying her in his maternal grandfather’s backyard in California.

Peggy Herlacher, 73, was reported missing on July 24, one week after her grandson moved into her home with her. On July 25, Masterson was stopped in Sacramento by police and found to be in possession of heroin, along with Herlacher’s credit cards, property and vehicle. He refused to speak with investigators.

On Aug. 31, detectives uncovered Herlacher’s body buried in a flower bed in Riverbank, Calif. An autopsy concluded she died of strangulation.

Masterson was jailed in Sacramento on possession of drugs and stolen property charges. He was brought back to Nevada on Oct. 11 to face nine charges in Lyon County including murder, kidnapping and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Auer said he has offered Masterson a plea deal. If Masterson pleads to first degree murder with an elderly enhancement, grand larceny of a motor vehicle with an elderly enhancement and grand larceny of jewelry, the state will dismiss the other charges against him. An elderly enhancement can add between one to 20 years onto a sentence and must be served consecutively. First-degree murder carries life with parole after 20 years, life without parole or a definite prison term of 20 to 50 years.

Auer said he has yet to get a response from Masterson’s attorney.

A status check on the case is set in Walker River Justice Court in Yerington on Dec. 10.