Nevada high court urged to ease term in Mount Rose drug murders
The Nevada Supreme Court was urged Monday to grant a new trial to a man who was sentenced to multiple life terms for the drug-related killings of two men on Mount Rose more than 11 years ago.
A lawyer for Bobby Stroup, a former Carson City resident sentenced to four no-parole life terms, argued that Stroup got an unfair trial because of testimony against him from jailhouse informants.
Attorney Richard Cornell also said Stroup’s trial, for the October 1991 murders of Daniel Rasmussen and Jack Strawbridge, was delayed too long. Stroup was convicted in April 2001.
Cornell said the state Supreme Court should revise jury instructions on trial testimony given by witnesses who share jail cells with people who brag about their crimes.
The attorney said there’s potential for lying by accused criminals whose boasting is really “jockeying for status” among other inmates.
Cornell said he wasn’t arguing to bar such testimony — but that there should be more done to determine the reliability of testimony that could be “potential dynamite” for a defendant.
Deputy Washoe County District Attorney Terry McCarthy said he viewed Cornell’s suggestion to restrict such testimony “a little bit shocking.” McCarthy said Stroup could have prevented the testimony by simply not bragging.
“Juries decide who is reliable and who is credible,” McCarthy said, echoing comments by Justice Mark Gibbons, one of three justices who heard the case Monday.
Regarding the defense claim of excessive trial delays, McCarthy noted Stroup faced criminal charges in California before his Nevada trial could proceed.
“We had to stand in line,” he said.
Stroup was convicted of two counts each of first-degree murder and first-degree murder with a deadly weapon for the deaths of Rasmussen and Strawbridge, who were kidnapped from a Carson City convenience store. Their bullet-riddled bodies were later found along the Mount Rose Highway.
During Stroup’s trial, prosecutors argued that even if he didn’t kill the two men himself, he supplied the guns and participated in the conspiracy that led to their deaths, making him guilty of murder.
Stroup’s son, Roger Stroup, was convicted in 1996 of kidnapping the men, but was acquitted of murder.
A ruling will be issued later on Bobby Stroup’s bid for either a new trial or to reduce his four terms to two life sentences.