Las Vegas casino shooter dies in Nevada prison | NevadaAppeal.com

Las Vegas casino shooter dies in Nevada prison

KEN RITTER
Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A 54-year-old gunman convicted of opening fire and wounding four people in a Las Vegas Strip casino has died, less than a year into his 26-to-90-year Nevada prison sentence, authorities said Tuesday.

Steven Frances Zegrean’s death at the William Bee Ririe Critical Access Hospital in Ely was from natural causes and cardiac arrest, White Pine County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Henriod said.

Zegrean was found unresponsive in his cell about 6:15 a.m. April 29 at Nevada’s maximum-security Ely State Prison, and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 9:30 a.m., Henriod said. No autopsy was performed.

In his only public statement following the early July 6, 2007, shooting at the New York-New York casino, Zegrean begged forgiveness from the Clark County District Court judge who sentenced him last October.

He called the shooting “a cry for help … to end my own life.”

Zegrean’s lawyers and his only defense witness, a clinical neuropsychologist, cast Zegrean as deeply depressed and suicidal after losing his job, marriage and home. They said he hoped police would shoot him while he wandered the Las Vegas Strip wearing an overcoat with pockets full of bullets before entering the casino during the Independence Day weekend three years ago.

Zegrean’s gun jammed after 16 shots from a mezzanine balcony at casino patrons below. He was tackled and held by two off-duty military reservists until police arrived.

Zegrean, a native of Hungary, did not testify during trial. A jury found him guilty in July 2009 of 51 of 52 felony charges – including 16 charges of attempted murder with a deadly weapon for each of the 16 shots fired.

Deputy Clark County Public Defender Lynn Avants had argued there was no evidence that Zegrean aimed at people when he began peppering the casino floor with bullets.

Avants said Tuesday that Zegrean had been planning to appeal his conviction and sentence.