Archive | June, 2011

“This Is A Big One” Melville Arraigns Via Video

Posted on 29 June 2011 by Howard Copelan


Kevin Argueta

Antonio Correa

Andrea Peebles

Octavio Loera  Gonzalez

James Dean Rains

Gilbert Rodriguez

Larry Vawtar

Michael Eugene Beardall

Gilbert Rodriguez

Larry Svawtar

Gabriel Palafox

Anthony Bair

Shawn Knox

Raju Suthar

Kevin Argueta

Antonio Correa


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Posted on 28 June 2011 by Howard Copelan



CLICK: SKMBT_36011062809380


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White Pine Sentencing June 20

Posted on 26 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

Monday, June 20, 2011
Seventh Judicial District Court
Department 1, Judge Steve L. Dobrescu
9:30 am
CR-1008061 Jeanene Abbott Status
CR-1103015 Lisa Loveridge Status
Department 2, Judge Dan L. Papez
10:00 am
CR-1103018 Shannon S. Thompson Sentencing

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White Pine Court Sentencing June 13

Posted on 26 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

Monday, June 13, 2011
Seventh Judicial District Court
Department 2, Judge Dan L. Papez
10:00 am
CR-1105028 Rodney Kenney Sentencing
CR-1101008 Adam McCombs Probation Revokation Hearing
CR-1103017 Anna Lee Bartkoski Sentencing
CR-1105027 Eric T. Pay Status
CR-1105026 Charles Kitchell Probation Violation Hearing

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Elko JP Holds Toni Fratto’s Fate In His Decision

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

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The fate of accused killer Toni Fratto could hang with a decision by Elko Judge al Kacin who is expected to rule on whether or not Fratto’s confession to the murder of Micaela Costanzo to the lawyers of her boyfriend Kody patten is admissible in court.

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In six hour hearing featuring attorneys the Elko District Attorney’s office, Patten’s lawyers John Ohlson and Jeffrey Kump and fratto’s attorney John Springgate of Reno, Kacin heard arguments whether or not Fratto’s confession was protected under attorney client privilege and therefore inadmissible as evidence in a future trial.

Until a very partial transcript was released in Torvinen’s motion details of Fratto’s confession were not released to the press or the public. While that portion details only the first few minutes of the interview it does confirm the general belief that whether lying or not Fratto confessed not because of any overwhelming guilt to the crime but rather to “help” her boyfriend.

It is also clear that Fratto is under the impression that she, her boyfriend Patten and Patten’s attorneys are on the same team and even if they cannot officially represent her, they will take care of her.

In their response to Torvinen’s motion in limine, Fratto’s attorneys John Springgate and David Lockie allege that Fratto was lied to and manipulated by Ohlson and Jeff Kump to put herself possibly on death row while giving her vague assurances that anything she said would be more or less confidential.

Portions of the Fratto’s confession were released last week as part of motion in limine by Elko County District Attorney Marc Torvinen. In this case Torvinen’s motion is an attempt to preempt a defense move that would seek to throw out Fratto’s confession on the grounds of attorney/client privileged conversation and therefore inadmissible in court.

Patten was arrested for the March 3rd murder of Micaela Costanzo three days after she had gone missing and within a few hours after her body was discovered in a shallow grave some 5 miles west of Wendover.

Patten cracked and admitted to killing the young girl after an all night interrogation session and a phone call to his father Kip. According to police reports at no time during the intense 8 hours of so of questioning did Patten implicate his live in girlfriend Fratto in the crime and indeed may have even used her as his alibi.

For the first six weeks after his arrest, it was the position of the Elko District Attorney’s office and the Elko Sheriff’s Department that Kody Patten was the sole suspect in the case and would alone stand trial for the murder of Micaela Costanzo.

All that changed early last month when John Ohlson, Patten’s lead attorney released the bombshell confession from Toni Fratto in which she claims it was she and not her lover who killed Costanzo. Within 24 hours of Ohlson’s release of the taped confession to the court, Fratto was arrested and charged with the death penalty eligible open murder of her classmate.

If the confession is thrown out there is serious doubt that enough evidence would remain to convict Fratto at least on the murder charge. According to sources close to the investigation there is very little if any forensic evidence that implicates Fratto or that cannot be explained away.

Also there is the fact that the prosecution was ready to prosecute Patten alone and that Fratto was not even a suspect or a person of interest in the crime until she said what she said to her boyfriends attorneys.

At least in the battle over the DA’s motion, it appears the prosecution and Patten’s lawyers have the mutual goal of seeing Fratto’s confession placed in evidence and Toni Fratto be tried for the murder of Micaela.

Time and time again Ohlson is mentioned in support of the DA’s assertion that Fratto’s confession is not protected by the attorney/client privilege. And for their part Fratto’s lawyers accused Ohlson of blatantly misleading their client and perhaps even violating the attorney rules of conduct.

Ohlson is not the only one to come harsh criticism from Springgate and Lockie. Kip Patten, Kody’s father also comes under the gun for unduly influencing Fratto. According to the response Kip Patten took the opportunity the absence of Toni Fratto’s parents Cassie and Claud, from town to drive their daughter from Wendover 110 miles to Elko for that fateful meeting in Kump’s office.

Sources close to the investigation also doubted the former Wendover Junior Miss’ tale, simply because Fratto may simply not have had enough time to do what she claimed to have done.

While the girl’s whereabouts is not known from 5 pm, she and her mother were recorded as being in attendance at a West Wendover Recreation District meeting at 6 pm and witnesses report they arrived a few minutes before the meeting was gaveled to begin.

However even if Fratto’s confession is thrown out or she publicly recants and is absolved of the crime her confession and the District Attorney’s resulting charging may have severely weakened the case against Patten. A jury might be very well asked how could anyone believe the police or the prosecution when they contradict each other on a weekly basis?

Editors note: the District attorney’s motion in liminen as well as the response are available for down load in the entirety at

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Ely Prison Killing Was Murder Says Nevada AG

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

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Prison officials and the Nevada Attorney General’s office are staying mum at least for a little while longer on the identity of and Ely Prison inmate suspected of murdering his cell mate Erick Houser earlier this month.

Houser was found dead in cell earlier this month.

According to White Pine county Under sheriff Scott Henroid results of the autopsy indicate that the inmate was murdered sometime during the night.

“The autopsy report shows strangulation was the cause of death,” Henroid said. “The Attorney General’s office whose duty it is to prosecute the case is being very cautious. We should be able to release information about the suspect later this week or early next.”

All that is known about the victim is that Houser was just a few months shy of serving his sentence and would have been a free man by the beginning of 2012.

Houser had been serving time for convictions in Washoe County on weapon and stolen vehicle possession charges.

Originally sentenced to the minimum security Carlin Honor Camp, Houser walked away while on a work detail in 2008 with less than a year before parole. He was captured less than a week later in Reno and now deemed a flight risk was sent to Ely Maximum Security Prison where he was ordered to serve out his full sentenced with another six years tacked on for his escape.

Last week White Pine County Sheriff’s office released the photo of Houser.

Statistics on inmate on inmate violence are notoriously hard to get from prison officials however the Ely State Prison when first planned and then built more than 20 years ago was designed specifically for inmates to be housed in individual cells not double bunking.

Former warden Tony Godinez who was the second chief executive at the prison cited double bunking as one of the major factors for inmate assaults in prison.

“There is no way anyone would want to have a cell mate,” Godinez said back in the early 1990’s. “First off you don’t know who you are going to get and frankly living with another guy in a tiny cell just breeds trouble. It is a hell of a lot easier and safer for staff to have single bunking and it is safer for the inmates too.”

But while the original plan may have been to give every prisoner his own cell an increasing inmate population combined with declining state budgets combined to see that double bunking became the norm and not the exception.

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Morros Trades Horsepower For Pedal Power

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

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On June 20th, Josh Morros will depart Reno, Nevada on a bicycle beginning what will be a 2700 mile ride across 10 states to the headquarters of the Brain injury Association of America in Vienna, Virginia (near Washington D.C.).  The reason for the ride?  “Because I Can,” says Josh.  And the amazing part of the story is just a little over two and half years ago, he couldn’t.

In 2006 and 2007 Josh Morros was a name you heard often in the off-road racing world, racing a Kawasaki 250F in the desert and banging bars with some of the biggest names in the sport.  In 2008, the 16 year old Morros moved from AMA Amateur to Professional.  As a Factory Kawasaki Team Green rider, Josh captured a holeshot start and led his first Pro WORCS race for more than an hour of the two-hour race, settling for a 3rd overall podium finish.  This earned him respect from his new professional peers.  To highlight it all Morros earned a spot on the prestigious IDSE (International Six Days Enduro) Junior Trophy team, being the youngest rider.  Life could not have been better for this teenager from Reno, Nevada. Then one day in August 2008, at the blink of an eye, a crash going 80 mph plus on that desert course in a AMA National Hare and Hound competition, changed his whole world.

As his body, bruised and bloody, lay comatose in a hospital bed, it was hard to believe that just hours before he was a vibrant boy making history in the off-road motorcycle world.  Morros suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and had sparse brain activity.  His parents were given little to no hope since it is hard to predict what happens from one brain injury to the next.  Their biggest concern was, he was not acknowledging any reaction to pain and he had been in a coma for 24 days.  Never giving up hope, his parents believed Josh would recover, even though almost everyone tired to prepare them to not get their hopes up.  Both his parent realized none of it was going to be up to them, all they could do was be there and fight right beside their son for a full recovery.

Amazingly, Josh did wake up, and his over-achieving personality started fighting to overcome the physical and mental challenges he faced.  With each accomplished task it gave him more hope and determination to achieve every obstacle in his path.  Josh had to relearn everything over from almost the infancy stage of life.

Doctors still comment on his miraculous recovery in just a little over two years, and credit a lot to nutrition before and after the accident, not to mention all the initial assessment from the first responder team in Wendover, Nevada, the trauma and rehab doctors in Utah.  With the type of severe traumatic brain injury Josh sustained, 99% that have survive have some sort of disability, leaving 1% able to live a normal life.  Josh and his family realized early into the injury there was not a lot of awareness and found at times not having a lot of support related to brain injuries.  What was available was the negative encouragement to settle with the outcome and let go of the life Josh once knew.  That was not in the cards for the Morros family, instead they researched and reached out to find individuals that were willing to accept their “Never Give Up” attitude.

That is when they all decided to make a difference based on their journey and experience.  It all started in late 2009 with Josh reaching out to some youth groups just by telling his story and encouraging them to strive to always be their best.  Developing a good attitude as long as they were giving 100% they would always be winners and a success in life.  What matters most is everyone fails in life at one time or another, but how you get back up and go forward is what truly matters.  Soon they found people reaching out for comfort and needing to understand the long and grueling recovery process from TBI’s.  The biggest hurdle has been the denial and lack of awareness of concussions in our youth.  Then there is the short term and long term effect if not properly treated, none of this is to put a damper on doing sports or living your life with no regrets, it is about not ignoring the signs.  This all led to supporting The Brain Initiative, Centre For Neuro Skills, The Brain Injury Association, RiderDown Foundation and  Safe Kids.

During Josh’s grandmother’s final days in November 2010 (she sang to him every day and never left his side along with his mother the entire time he was in a coma), one of their final discussions was why Josh was restored and she wanted him to make a difference by reaching out to kids across the United States.  Her words were clear, “If you tackle your mission like you did your career, you will make a difference!”  That is when Josh came up with the idea to ride to the Brain Injury Association of America in Vienna, VA, which he will do in honor of his grandmother.  Being a positive role model through his commitment to off-road racing, local communities and personal education he feels he can bring more awareness to the care and prevention of traumatic brain injuries.

Josh is coordinating with local groups and others along the route to share his story in order to inspire others, also to speak of awareness.  He is looking for others to join parts of the ride and join his cause.  His goal is to also raise $250,000 on the ride for The Brain Initiative, The Brain Injury Association and Safe Kids.

For more information, please visit: or call 775-771-1540.


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Wendover’s First News Paper Now Good As Gold

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

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When it began publication 41 years ago next week no one really expected the Salt Flat News, Wendover first newspaper to be a huge success, at least not right away. And five years and 21 issues later it did indeed fold but while the scrappy publication never really got off the ground it has found a different kind of fame as one of the most sought after newspaper collector’s items in the country.

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With even fair copies retailing for $40 and mint condition editions fetching $800 or more on ebay or other internet auction sites the sun is again rising on the little paper that proudly proclaimed it was the only publication the “gave a damn about the Salt Flats and Wendover”.

Actually doing a paper about Wendover was my second choice,” said founding editor Richard Goldberger. “I wanted to do one about Park City first. “But I pitched the idea about the Salt Flats to George Odiorne the dean of business at the University of Utah

He handed me a check for $5,000 and told me to run with it.”

The rest as Goldberger said in an interview with the High Desert Advocate Wednesday was history.

Well at least five years worth of history.

“I wanted to do something visually exciting,” Goldberger now 67 said. “And look even now it is a beautiful piece of work.”

And work it was putting together a photo intensive tabloid was no mean feat back in the early 1970’s. The printing industry technology was still mostly in the era of hot lead and lino type. Photographs had to be developed from film and than reproduced into dot matrix images. Stories had to be written and rewritten edited and then rewritten on news format and then pasted up, photographed developed again and only then sent to the press for printing.

In terms of manpower and man hours what took 20 full time workers in 1970 takes just one man today.

“The Salt Flat news was a labor of love,” Goldberger added. “It was sad when we had to close but business is business.”

According to Goldberger the reason for the failure was simple.

“A couple of years into it, Jim Smith bought into it and became the majority stockholder,” he explained. “Then he backed out of his contract and the whole thing went bust.”

But in closure there was a silver lining a little late but silver none the less. Partly because of its quality and partly because of its rarity, old editions of the Salt Flat news now go for at least $40 among collectors an increase of 1,600 percent from the 25¢ cover price.

“It really does my heart good to see other people place value on something that meant so much to me.” Goldberger added.

Goldberger is now managing editor of the FNA News Agency based in salt Lake City.


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New e-School Gives Hope To Failing NV Students

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

Cash Glenn

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Rural Nevada teens who just don’t fit traditional schooling now have another option to dropping out– The Beacon Academy.

Three weeks ago West Wendover High School principal Terry Carsrud remarked that this years graduating class held the record for having the lowest dropout rates in the history of the school.

“We were at just about 50 percent,” he said. “Yeah I know we still have a long way to go.”

The fact that just half of the 2007 West Wendover freshman class actually received a diploma in 2011 is indicative of a problem that transcends West Wendover and is endemic across the state. Indeed the graduation of all Nevada high school students is the lowest in the country falling between 44 and 48 percent according to Education Week.

Education Week is a United States national newspaper covering K-12 education. It is published by Editorial Projects in Education (EPE), a nonprofit organization, which is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. The newspaper publishes 37 issues a year, three of them special annual reports. And for at least the past ten years Nevada has consistently ranked near or at the bottom of high school graduation rates.

According to both state and local educators the reason for the state’s dismal showing year after year are complex but at least in part due to the tourist industry and the wide availability of service industry jobs.

While relatively low paying the easy access to employment at a young age often puts teens in the position of dropping out.

“Look I know that a lot of families really need the income their children make,” said one local educator. “You begin to see it at around 14 or 15 when they can get their first jobs. A motivated teen can do both work and study but the at risk kids. They begin to work and slowly but surely they begin to fall behind. Their grades suffer and pretty soon they drop out. It is sad.”

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Wendover reported its highest ever graduation rate while the city’s gaming industry was hit by the Great Recession and still has not fully recovered.

Apart from competition with work there are of course a myriad of other reasons for West Wendover’s and Nevada high drop out. Everything from bullying to teen pregnancy to just not being able to get up in the morning or a combination of two or many have resulted in thousands of Nevada teens leaving high school without a diploma, year after depressing year.

Partly to overcome that dismal distinction the Beacon Academy was established two years ago. The free on line full time high school is based out of Las Vegas Nevada.

Unlike home schooling where parents supervise their child’s studies a full high school load of classes is taught by teachers.

“Beacon was a godsend to me and my boys,” said Kelly Kelsey of West Wendover. “They were having some real problems at school especially after their grandfather died and I just didn’t know what to do. Then I heard about Beacon, it has been fantastic.”

According to Kelsey her two sons easily enrolled and were given laptops for their school work.

“It’s about four or five hours of school work a day, a little less than going to school,” she added. “The staff has been really great to work with. I have never had a problem getting in touch with them or they with me. The boys grades have even improved. I am not saying Beacon is for everyone but for us it really was a lifesaver. I don’t know if my son would have graduated this year if not for Beacon.”

This year Kelsey said Beacon had three students enrolled from West Wendover and next year that number could well grow not only in Wendover but all through the high desert.

For the first time Beacon is setting up open houses in Ely, Wendover and Elko to explain the program this July.

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Fatal Tuesday Two Killed On Nevada Roads

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Howard Copelan

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A 23 year old Pahrump man was killed Tuesday 20 miles north of Wells on US 93 reported the Nevada Highway Patrol.

According to NHP Trooper Jim Stewart, preliminary investigation indicates that on Tuesday at about  2 am, Mr. Jonathan James Burch, age 23, from Pahrump, Nevada, was driving a 1998 Ford passenger car southbound on US 93, approximately 20 miles north of Wells, Nevada.  Mr. Burch was approaching a left hand curve on US 93 and allowed his vehicle to drift off the right (west) dirt shoulder.  Mr. Burch over corrected his vehicle to the left, then back to the right towards the right dirt shoulder.  The Ford passenger car subsequently overturned on the right (west) dirt shoulder.  During rollover, Mr. Burch was ejected from the vehicle.  He sustained fatal injuries at the scene.

The vehicle came to rest on its wheels off the highway.   Mr. Burch was not wearing his seat belt.

Preliminary investigation indicates speed and alcohol may be a contributing factor in the accident.

In addition to Burch another fatal accident was reported also on Tuesday.

According to NHP reports at approximately 5:45 pm, Mr. David Krebs, age, 59, from Sartell, MN, was riding a 2009 Kawaski motorcycle eastbound on US 50, 13 miles west of Austin, Nevada.  For unknown reasons, Mr. Krebs allowed his motorcycle to cross the center line and westbound travel lane into the north dirt shoulder.  The motorcycle continued to travel off the dirt shoulder and strike a large sagebrush.  The motorcycle overturned, and Mr. Krebs was thrown from the motorcycle.  The motorcycle landed on top of Mr. Krebs.  Mr. Krebs sustained fatal injuries at the scene.  He was wearing a helmet.

Preliminary investigation indicates driver inattention may be a contributing factor in the accident.

Witnesses to this accident or anyone with additional information are encouraged to call the Nevada Highway Patrol at 775-753-1111.


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