Archive | April, 2011

Kody Patten Goes To Psychiatrists For Evaluation

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

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Confessed killer Kody Patten may be angling for an insanity defense according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Patten confessed to the brutal murder of 16 year old West Wendover school girl Micaela Costanzo just two days after her body was found and four days after she was reported missing in early March.

According to papers filed with Elko Justice Court, Patten’s attorneys moved to waive Patten’s May 6th preliminary hearing and petitioned the court to send their client to the psychiatric hospital in Reno, Lakes Crossing for mental evaluation.

According to its web site: Lake’s Crossing Center is Nevada’s only program for the mentally disordered offender.  The agency provides statewide residential and outpatient services to individuals who have been evaluated as requiring mental health services in order to proceed with their adjudication.  Such services require a fully coordinated effort as Lake’s Crossing Center must meet a wide range of needs for a diverse population.

Inpatient treatment services are ordinarily limited to individuals committed to the facility pursuant to an order for evaluation of competency to stand trial (NRS 178.415), clients who have been adjudicated incompetent to stand trial (NRS 178.425); clients adjudicated Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) (NRS 175.539); or clients who are admitted by direction of the Administrator of MHDS who are too dangerous to be managed at a less restrictive facility.

“Patten’s attorneys moved to waive the scheduled preliminary hearing to bump the case up to district court so the motion for the psychiatric evaluation could be heard. Once it is completed and he returns to Elko County the case will again be transferred to Justice Court,” explained Justice Court Manager Frankie Corea.

A psychiatric evaluation usually takes from six weeks to two months although longer evaluations are not unheard of. Like most states Nevada does allow for a ‘not guilty by reason of insanity defense’ but while possible it is the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass in football. Indeed a hail Mary Pass has a much better record of success.

Since the death penalty was re-instituted in 1976 there has not been a successful insanity defense for a capitol crime.

According to the web site of the Las Vegas Defense Group: Legal insanity is a complete defense to a criminal act in Nevada. This means that if the case goes to trial and the jury finds that the defendant was insane at the time of the alleged crime, the jury will acquit the defendant.

In order to determine whether a person is insane, Las Vegas courts follow the M’Naghten rule: Insanity under M’Naghten is when the defendant was in a delusional state at the time of the alleged offense due to a disease or defect of the mind that prevented the defendant from either: knowing or understanding the nature and capacity of his/her act; or appreciating that his or her conduct was illegal.

Insanity is a very narrow standard in Nevada. Delusional beliefs may qualify as insanity only if the delusion, if it were true, would justify committing the crime.

In order to raise the insanity defense in Nevada, the defendant may either: plead “not guilty by reason of insanity” no less than 21 days before the trial, or claim he/she is not guilty by reason of insanity during the trial

If the case does go to trial, the judge will allow the jury to consider the insanity defense only if the defendant presented evidence during the trial that his/her delusion, if true, would justify the commission of the criminal act. The jury may then acquit the defendant if they find that the defendant proved he/she was insane by a “preponderance of the evidence.”

Whenever a jury acquits a defendant on insanity grounds, the judge will then order the defendant into protective custody for a mental health evaluation. If the court then finds that there is no “clear and convincing” evidence that the defendant still has a mental illness, he/she will be released. Otherwise, the defendant will be committed until further notice.

In that sense an insanity defense is a double edged sword and is considered usually only for those facing a death penalty, said an attorney familiar with death penalty defense in Nevada.

Without exception winning an insanity verdict in Nevada never meant freedom, but rather an opened ended sentence in a high security psychiatric hospital where one can be subjected to a variety of treatments until “cured”.

According to one national study the length of time for those deemed ‘criminally insane’ is substantially longer than a prison sentence for the exact same crime.

In Nevada use of the insanity defense is most wholly restricted to defendants facing the death penalty or by those pleading temporary insanity for acts of revenge such as parent killing his or her child’s molester. In both cases success can be measured by percentage points in the single digits.

A use of the insanity defense by Patten may face even greater odds. While the West Wendover certainly fits the description of a troubled young man an effort to portray him as being unaware that the murder of Micaela Costanzo was “wrong” would border on the ludicrous.

Nevada is one of a few states which allows defendants to plead “guilty but mentally ill.” This is essentially the same as pleading guilty . . . The only difference is that the judge may also order mental health treatment in addition to criminal penalties such as prison.

Defendants who choose to plead “guilty but mentally ill” typically do so when the chances of them being acquitted on insanity grounds are small. The advantage of being found “guilty but mentally ill” over simply being found guilty is that it may look better on the defendant’s criminal record . . . It suggests the defendant didn’t do the crime on purpose and has since received treatment. Another major difference is that no one found guilty but mentally ill was ever sent to death row, much less executed.

A plea of guilty but mentally ill must also be entered no less than 21 days before the trial, if there is one. And if the case does go to trial, the defendant has the burden to prove that he/she was mentally ill by a preponderance of the evidence.

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Wells Cop Shooter, Coca Prelim May 5th

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

Mark Guralnick                                        Peter Mark Coca

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Accused Wells cop shooter Peter Mark Coca will make his first appearance in court May 5, for his preliminary hearing on 13 separate counts of attempted murder and assault on police officers.

Coca was arrested February 26 after he turned himself in to police following a three day search for the Wells electrical contractor.

Elko County Deputies and NHP troopers were called to the Wells’ man home in response to a ‘violent domestic dispute’ on February 24. When they arrived the saw Coca on the roof brandishing an assault rifle. From that rooftop snipers’ perch Coca held off the deputies and NHP troopers for about 30 minutes firing well over 50 rounds critically injuring one

Deputy Lenwood Van Natter was hit by multiple rifle shots in the chest, hip and legs. Deputy Van Natter was pulled from the scene by the other officers and air lifted to a Salt Lake City hospital.

Following a two day multi state manhunt Coca surrendered on February 26 in Wells where he had been hiding all along in a neighbor’s basement.

Shortly after his arrest Coca complained of chest pains and was sent for medical care and evaluation in Carson City. He was returned to the Elko County Jail on March 17.

The May 5th hearing will also mark the first appearance by Coca’s attorney Mark Guralnick of New Jersey.

Guralnick’s presence may indicate that the Wells businessman is going to put up a fight to stay out of prison.

Classified as “excellent” by the legal rating book Martindale Hubble, Guralnick according to his firm’s website operates a large legal firm specializing in a wide variety of law from criminal defense to personal injury.

“The Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick is home to one of the world’s most highly-trained, hardworking, and court-savvy legal teams, assisting clients in personal injury law, family law, criminal defense law and business law. We deliver timely and effective solutions to difficult personal, family and business problems, utilizing our many skills and resources and our talented action-oriented staff.

….We will go to bat for you, to guide you through difficult legal issues and, when necessary, to ensure that your wishes are expressed, loud and clear, in a court of law.

 

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City Shells Out Big Bucks For New CFO

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

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West Wendover’s outgoing Chief Financial Officer Sondra Schmidt might not be leaving if she received the $24,000 the city council authorized to advertise for her replacement.

Schmidt announced she was leaving at the beginning of April and according to the CFO pay was a major factor in her decision.

“I really didn’t want to leave,” Schmidt said two weeks ago. “But facing a ten percent cut in pay versus a 45 percent raise at the new job, I had to think about my family first.”

According to Schmidt she will become the new Chief Financial Officer for Humboldt County in Winnemucca. That position had been open since December. Schmidt interviewed for the position earlier last week and was tentatively offered the job that same day.

In addition to paying significantly more Winnemucca is much closer to her ranch in south eastern Oregon.

But while the council was ready to cut Schmidt’s pay by about $7,000, they voted over the objections of Mayor Donnie Andersen to spend almost three times that amount to find her replacement.

“No it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Andersen said Wednesday.

According to the mayor the city is slated to spend the money with professional search firm as well as ads in trade publications around the region.

“Hopefully we can fill the position before the search starts, that way we don’t have to spend the money.” the mayor added.

Schmidt departure could not come at a least fortuitous time for the city. Facing a budget deficit described as massive, there has been but one budget meeting so far this year. While department heads like Schmidt were forced to take a ten percent pay cut, West Wendover’s unionized work force has reportedly refused a similar reduction in pay.

Hit by a combination of over building, the Great Recession and an ‘unexpected’ 10 percent drop in population West Wendover is facing a sea of red ink, that must be drained before the start of the next fiscal year and cannot be fixed by printing more money.

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Limons Open New Clothing Store

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

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Just in time for Mother’s Day, High School Graduation Parties and first communion West Wendover newest clothing store opened this month.

Owned and operated by Mercedes Limon the New Fashion Clothing Store is located  just below Smith’s at the old Hot Spot Video building and features a variety of women’s clothing, shoes and accessories.

 

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Lance Burns hearing April 18, 2011

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

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White Pine County Drug Court April 18, 2011

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Howard Copelan


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Elko District Court Law and Motions April 18, 2011

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT —  DEPARTMENT 1

COURT SCHEDULE — LAW & MOTION CALENDAR

Mon 4-18

1:30 PM – CRIMINAL MATTERS (PUBLIC DEFENDER)

CR-FP-10-2437 Garcia, Vickie Lorraine (DA/Mierins) Arraignment (Attempted Battery Causing Substantial Bodily Harm)

CR-FP-10-1881 Stratz, John Preston (DA/Mierins) Sentencing (Possession of a Controlled Substance)

CR-FP-10-1123 York, Edward Fletcher (DA/Lee) Arraignment (Attempted Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Sale)

CR-FP-10-2075 Gardner, Christopher Ryan (DA/Leddy) Arraignment (Possession of a Schedule I Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Sale)

CR-FP-10-2019 Brunson, Robert William (DA/Stewart) Sentencing (Possession of a Controlled Sub.)

CR-FO-09-301 Thompson, William (DA/Stewart) Sentencing (Possessing Forged Instruments or Bills/Possession of False Identification)

CR-GP-11-235 Poulson, Michael Joel (DA/Kilpatrick) Arraignment (Indecent or Obscene Exposure)

CR-FO-10-2105 Pantelakis, Nahiely (DA/Kilpatrick) Arraignment (Theft by the Unlawful Control and/or Conversion of Property of a Value of Two-Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($250.00) or More)

2:45 PM – CRIMINAL MATTERS (PRIVATE ATTORNEY)

CR-FP-10-1301 Schroeder, Gary Lynn (DA/Lockie) Change of Plea (Driving Under the Influence with One or More Prior Felony DUI Convictions)

CR-FO-11-173 Patterson, Jaysen Alexander (DA/Shurtz) Arraignment (Escape)

CR-FP-10-1677 Foster, Garry Grant (DA/Green) Arraignment (Conspiracy to Commit Possession of a Controlled Substance)

CR-FP-10-1671 Korte, Scott Bryan (DA/Green) Arraignment (Possession of a Controlled Substance)

CR-FP-10-931 Wilson-O’Brien, Amy Lee (DA/Whiteside) Arraignment (Possession of a Controlled Substance)

CR-FP-10-713 Wilson-O’Brien, Amy Lee (DA/Whiteside) Arraignment (To Knowingly Use and/or be Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance)

CR-FO-10-2229 Patton, Chawnee Rose (DA/Whiteside) Arraignment (Conspiracy to Commit Theft of Property of a Value of Two-Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($250.00) or More)

[MEDIA not found] [MEDIA not found] [MEDIA not found]

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US Army Rangers “Attack” Wendover Airbase

Posted on 16 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

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The Wendover Air base will be attacked and captured by an elite commando unit probably more than once next week, but residents shouldn’t worry the commandos  are the good guys.

From April 18 to the 21 Army Rangers of the 2nd Battalion 75th Regiment will descend on the Wendover Air base in a variety of ways and scenarios to hone their already impressive combat skills in taking an enemy held air field.

Built during World War II and since greatly modified, the Wendover Air base is quite similar to air bases in the Middle East and South East Asia as is the basic topography. That similarity has been used more than once not only by the United States Military but also by Hollywood. The most notable example was in the movie Independence Day when Wendover locations not only doubled for the top secret Area 51 located near Pahrump but also for Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Slated to last under three days, the exercise will close the airport for that period of time. According to airport manager Richard Brown all commercial and private airport users have long since been notified that his facility will be closed.

“Every own who files a flight plan has been notified,” Brown said Tuesday. “We have been planning this for about a year.”

Brown however did not discount the possibility that some pilot might inadvertently fly into the mock war zone by accident.

While most private pilots are responsible flyers there are a few who wouldn’t know a flight plan from a menu and whose principal navigational tool is following roads from above. Those folks might be in for a bit of a shock if they attempt to land in Wendover while the exercise is going on.

The United States Army Rangers are elite members of the United States Army. Rangers have served in recognized U.S. Army Ranger units or have graduated from the U.S. Army’s Ranger School. The term “Ranger” was first used in North America in the early 17th century; however, the first ranger company was not officially commissioned until King Philip’s War (1676) and then they were used in the four French and Indian Wars. Rangers also fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War.

It was not until World War II that the modern Rangers were born, authorized by General George C. Marshall in 1942. The six battalions of the modern Rangers have been deployed in wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and saw action in several conflicts, such as those in Panama and Grenada. Of the current active Ranger battalions, two—the 1st and the 2nd—have been in service since reactivation in 1974. The 3rd Ranger Battalion and the headquarters of the 75th Ranger Regiment were reactivated in 1984.

The 75th Ranger Regiment is now a special operations combat formation within the U.S. Army Special Operation Command (USASOC). The Ranger Regiment traces its lineage to three of six battalions raised in WWII, and to the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)—known as “Merrill’s Marauders,” and then reflagged as the 475th Infantry, then later as the 75th Infantry.

The Ranger Training Brigade (RTB)—headquartered at Fort Benning, GA—is an organization under the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and is separate from the 75th Ranger Regiment. It has been in service under various names and Army departments since World War II. The Ranger Training Brigade administrates Ranger School. Successful completion of this 61-day course is required to become Ranger qualified and to wear the Ranger Tab.

 

 

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Wendover Clubs Dive In February Win Report, State Down, Elko Up

Posted on 16 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

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Wendover casinos took it on the chin in February with an 8.66 percent decline in gaming win according to last week’s report from the State Gaming Control Board.

According to the report gaming win from Wendover casinos fell about $1.4 million this February to $14.57 million. It was the fifth reported decline in as many months and the lowest recorded win for the month since 2006.

“Win” is a gross figure, with no operating costs or other expenses deducted. And it’s casino revenue only _ separate from hotel, restaurant or bar revenues generated by the resorts.

While win indicates a casino market’s profitability another statistic “play” is an indicator of how casino workers are fairing. With some casino workers dependent on tips for up to half of their total income, play, the amount of money wagered by gamblers is a good indicator of how much casino workers received in tips and how many gamblers are actually in the casino.

Wendover casinos have seen both their win and play numbers on a general decline since the Great Recession hit the border town in 2007. Currently the Nevada/Utah border town is running close to 20 percent less in gaming win than it was during its heydays of the mid-2000’s.

“It’s like that all over the state,” said GCB gaming analyst Michael Lawton.

In fact compared with the Reno/Sparks gaming district Wendover casinos have weathered the downturn rather well which is down over 30 percent from 2006 gaming win numbers.

“We were hoping for some kind of turn around this year,” Lawton said of the state gaming industry. “But so far that has not happened.”

At least in February those hopes were not realized for the state and for Wendover.

According to the report total slot win for Wendover fell 14 percent to $11 million. Coin in or slot play fell 11 percent to $194.2 million while slot hold dropped from 5.89 percent to 5.69 percent.

There were however some bright spots on the Wendover report. Total win from table games and sports betting increased 15.2 percent to $3.3 million. Game play however fell 2.0 percent to $15.6 million. Hold increase from 18 percent to 21.33 percent.

Blackjack, Wendover largest money making game reported a win of $1.9 million up 20.3 percent from February. Hold on the 21 tables increased from 17.62 percent to 21.33 percent.

Win from Wendover’s sports book was also up 34.2 percent.

For the entire state Nevada casino winnings fell 6.8 percent in February compared with the same month in 2010, marking the fourth straight month of declines and the steepest drop in more than a year, state casino regulators reported Friday.

Statewide, casinos won $881.8 million during the reporting period. The $41.6 million in taxes collected by the state represent an 11.1 percent decline from the same month a year ago, according to the report from the Gaming Control Board. Taxes on casino winnings make up about a third of Nevada’s general fund revenues.

For the fiscal year that began July 1, casino revenues were mostly flat, up about 0.1 percent.

On the Las Vegas Strip, Nevada’s gambling mecca that generates half of all statewide casino revenues, winnings plunged 9.5 percent.

Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the control board, said the month-to-month comparison was difficult because winnings in February 2010 were up 13.9 percent.

Another reason is attributed to baccarat, a high-roller game favored by Asian players. Despite Chinese New Year’s, a holiday that tends to generate baccarat play, the $1.2 billion wagered on the game was down $1.2 million, Lawton said.

The report found that for the first seven months of the fiscal year, statewide casino winnings were up a little less than 1 percent.

February’s decline was the largest since October 2009, Lawton said.

“There are so many things that point in the right direction,” Lawton said about Nevada’s tourism-dependent economy. “Visitation is up, occupancy, conventions, air passenger traffic … More people are coming and spending less,” he said.

Elsewhere around the state, the casino win fell 7.5 percent in Reno; 10.2 percent in Sparks; 2.5 percent in South Lake Tahoe.

One of the few shining exceptions in the report is found among Elko County casinos outside of Wendover which showed a robust 6 percent increase from February 2010. In January Elko total gaming win shot up 14.2 percent to $8 million.

According to the Department of taxation Elko sales boomed in January a whopping 29 percent above last years numbers. And according to the state department of labor the county’s unemployment rate fell from 9.0 percent to 7.7 while the number of jobs increase from 25,400 to 25,700.

Those two reports along with January’s and February’s positive gaming win results indicate that the mining fueled Elko County economy may be emerging from the three year long Great Recession.

But Elko recovery back to economic health is not uniform and with Nevada still stuck firmly in neutral insignificant for the Silver State as a whole.

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City CFO, Schmidt Quits

Posted on 16 April 2011 by Howard Copelan

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West Wendover will now have to address next years budget without the help of City Accountant.

Sondra Schmidt, City Chief Financial Officer, tendered her resignation last week to West Wendover Mayor Donnie Andersen.

“I really didn’t want to leave,” Schmidt said Monday. “But facing a ten percent cut in pay versus a 45 percent raise at the new job, I had to think about my family first.”

According to Schmidt she will become the new Chief Financial Officer for Humboldt County in Winnemucca. That position had been open since December. Schmidt interviewed for the position earlier last week and was tentatively offered the job that same day.

In addition to paying significantly more Winnemucca is much closer to her ranch in south eastern Oregon.

Schmidt departure could not come at a least fortuitous time for the city. Facing a budget deficit described as massive, there has been but one budget meeting so far this year. While department heads like Schmidt were forced to take a ten percent pay cut, West Wendover’s unionized work force has reportedly refused a similar reduction in pay.

Hit by a combination of over building, the Great Recession and an ‘unexpected’ 10 percent drop in population West Wendover is facing a sea of red ink, that must be drained before the start of the next fiscal year and cannot be fixed by printing more money.

“By law we have to balance our budget,” said Mayor Donnie Andersen. “And we have to work together to do it.”

At the heart of the city’s fiscal woes is the mortgage payments on the new city hall.

Originally slated to cost $5.5 million when first proposed four years ago the building was let out to bid for $7.5 million last year and since then additional cost is pushing the total cost of the project to the $8 million mark and perhaps beyond it.

But as the cost of the project increase the revenues projected to pay off the building loans either fell or were not realized at all.

With the onset of national recession two years ago, an estimated steady long term increase in tax revenue looks at least overly optimistic.

According to projections the General Fund revenue growth was expected to generally increase for the next 11 years.

In addition to those fiscal woes the city was hit with even more bad news this month when the US census reported that there are now 4,410 people in Wendover a drop of 6.6 percent from the 4,721 counted in 2000 and more importantly a drop of more than 10 percent from its estimated population of a bout 5,000 from the state demographers office.

West Wendover share in a number of state funds is either directly or indirectly determined on a per capita basis. Fewer people mean fewer dollars and the city is already strapped for cash.

According to Andersen the biggest hit to West Wendover’s budget has perhaps yet to land.

Faced with a budget defective its own of about $1 billion the state of Nevada is expected to siphon off any loose funds from every county, district and city it can legally take.

“It could be brutal,” Andersen added.

 

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