New hearing ordered in 14 year old death case |

New hearing ordered in 14 year old death case

by Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

A man sentenced to death in the killing of a 4-year-old girl will get a chance to prove he should get a new penalty hearing.

Kitrich Powell was convicted of first-degree murder in the November 1989 beating death of Melea Allen in Las Vegas. He has been on Nevada’s death row since June 1991.

But Powell won an order from Clark County District Judge John McGroarty granting him a new penalty hearing on grounds his lawyer should have called his father and brothers to provide mitigating testimony against the death sentence.

McGroarty rejected numerous other claims by Powell.

Both Powell and the Clark County District Attorney’s office appealed.

The Nevada Supreme Court on Friday split the difference in the case. Rather than granting a new penalty hearing, the panel of Justices Bob Rose, Bill Maupin and Mark Gibbons ordered an evidentiary hearing into Powell’s claims his lawyer was ineffective for failing to call his father and two brothers to testify in the penalty hearing.

The court agreed with Powell’s attorney that an evidentiary hearing should be held to determine whether the prosecutor improperly shifted the burden of proof to the defense by commenting on the lack of mitigating witnesses during the penalty phase.