May 29 preliminary hearing set for man in Fernley killing
Nevada Appeal News Service
FERNLEY – A Las Vegas man suspected of gunning down his estranged wife on a rural Fernley road earlier this month will appear in court for a preliminary hearing May 29.
Michael Fixer Newcastle, 36, is being held in the Lyon County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder in the May 5 shooting death of Shelby Joanette, 35. Newcastle also allegedly goes by the name Michael Christopher Young.
According to Lyon County Sheriff’s investigators, the couple was in the process of divorcing and Joanette had moved in with her parents in Fernley.
On the morning of the shooting, Joanette called her father after her truck became disabled in the 3000 block of Farm District Road. About 9:30 a.m., minutes after making the phone call, deputies received a report of shots fired in the 3000 block of Farm District Road. When officers arrived, they found Joanette with two gunshot wounds to the head. She died three days later in a Reno hospital.
A witness reported seeing a man leaving the scene in a vehicle that allegedly matched the description of Newcastle’s car. He was apprehended later that night in Beatty. A 9 mm handgun was found in the vehicle’s trunk and a 9 mm shell casing was found at the shooting scene.
On Tuesday, Newcastle’s public defender successfully argued for the judge to set bail in the case.
“This is a very serious charge he’s facing. He’s informed me of his innocence, and we’re going forth in that manner. He lives in Las Vegas and he’s not a threat to the community,” said Public Defender Jesse Kalter. “He’s never been in trouble before, and he wants to clear his name.”
Bob Auer, Lyon County district attorney, asked that the no-bail hold remain.
Auer said Newcastle has no ties with Lyon County or Fernley and should be considered a flight risk because he has “no significant ties to Las Vegas,” noting he rents a room there and is unemployed.
Auer also noted Newcastle has California identifications under the surnames Young and Fixer Newcastle, and correspondence with a passport-processing firm was allegedly found at his residence.
Judge Bennett questioned the public defender why bail was being sought if Newcastle couldn’t afford a private attorney. Kalter said assistance from bond companies could be used to post bail.
Newcastle’s bail was set at $5 million. He is due in court again next week to determine if there is enough evidence to go forward on the murder charge.
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