Archive | April, 2012

Kody Patten To Fire Defense Team?

Posted on 27 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

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Confessed killer Kody Patten may attempt to fire his lawyers in the coming weeks according to sources close to the case.

“That is the scuttle butt going around. The problem is they were appointed by the court. He can’t really fire them because he didn’t hire them.” One source said.

Patten is being represented by Reno Attorney John Ohlson and Elko Attorney Jeffrey Kump. Ohlson is one of just a hand full of Nevada lawyers certified to defend death penalty case and is consider one of the best in his field.

He along with Kump were appointed shortly after Patten was charged with Costanzo’s murder and played an integral role in later obtaining the confession of Toni Fratto.

In December Ohlson entered plea bargain negotiations with District Attorney Marc Torvinen and by mid-January both sides had signed off on deal that would have had Patten pleading guilty to first degree murder for a life sentence with perhaps the possibility of parole after 25 years. In return Patten agreed to testify against Fratto who was then still also charged with first degree murder and facing a death sentence.

Both sides had even arranged a change of plea hearing and Patten was scheduled to give an affidavit to Torvinen regarding his a Fratto’s actions during the murder. It was during what was supposed to be the giving of Patten’s affidavit that the 19 year old killer shocked both his lawyers and the District Attorney by suddenly backing out of the agreement.

According to sources close to the investigation neither Ohlson or Torvinen had any idea that Patten was even thinking about changing his mind.

“Surprise is probably a mild way to put it.” said a source close to the case.


Only one other person besides Patten may not have been surprised, his father Kip. Already deeply involved in the case as the man who told his son to confess to crime after he had been arrested and as the man who persuaded Fratto to given her confession six weeks later, Kip Patten according to Elko County Jail logs was the last person to visit Kody before his sudden change of mind.

While nothing is known about what went between father and son, what is known that the change of plea hearing was announced on January 13. Kip made a visit on January 15 and on January 16th kody Patten stunned the room.

Most stunned by Patten’s change of heart was probably Ohlson.

For death penalty attorneys rarely is the guilt of their client in question. Like Patten, most have either confessed or the evidence against them is overwhelming. A win in those circumstances is not getting their clients off, but rather off death row. And in Patten’s case getting the District Attorney to sign off on the deal was a testament to Ohlson’s deserved reputation as one of the best criminal lawyers in the state.

Patten’s sudden refusal to take the deal had even farther ranging implications. Less than 24 hours after the news broke that the plea bargain was busted, Fratto copped her own deal with the DA. And Fratto’s testimony against her former boyfriend is devastating.






“Before she gave her affidavit the chances of patten getting the death penalty were pretty slim,” said a source close to the case. “Yes the DA had the confession but the defense had some pretty good supposed mitigating factors as well as another defendant they could pin some of the guilt on who wouldn’t testify against Kody. After her plea and especially after her affidavit the all that change. That (the affidavit) is a death penalty affidavit.”

In a three and a half hour interrogation by Elko District Attorney Marc Torvinen, Fratto gave the prosecution evidence that could put Patten on death row. According to her attorneys Fratto told the District Attorney that Patten spent more than a week planning Costanzo’s murder to the last detail.

Fratto also told the DA that after he had abducted Costanzo from West Wendover high school, Patten sent her a text message and a photo of his young victim while Fratto attended a Wendover Recreation District meeting where her mother Cassie is a board member.

“If the District Attorney uses her as a witness and she is believed by the jury, her testimony pretty much proves premeditation,” said Lockie in an interview with the High Desert Advocate Wednesday.

If Patten does go to trial his jury will have a choice of four possible verdicts the first being not guilty a highly unlikely outcome since Patten has already confessed to the killing. The other three verdicts: Murder; Felony Murder, or Premeditated Murder are more nuanced and for Patten and his attorneys could mean the difference between life with parole, life without parole or the death penalty.

Of the three possible verdicts only Felony Murder and Premeditated Murder carry a possible death penalty.

Under the Nevada felony murder rule, it’s still considered murder whether the killing was intentional or accidental. It also doesn’t make a difference whether the killing was in furtherance of the felony. The death merely needs to be logically connected to another felony for it to be murder.

In Patten’s case the other felony is the actual kidnapping of Mickie Costanzo. However according to current case law while the kidnapping of Costanzo may enhance the crime to felony murder the crime of kidnapping cannot be used as an aggravating factor that would put Patten in danger of receiving the death penalty if he is found guilty of felony murder.

“It’s counter intuitive,” Lockie explained. “But that is the current system.”

Fratto’s testimony could be crucial for a finding of premeditated murder. Even without it the District Attorney may have collected other evidence that strongly suggests that Costanzo’s killing was a cold calculated crime and not an almost accident as Patten’s defense team has sometimes portrayed it in the press and in motions to the court.

The truck that drove Patten, Fratto and Costanzo to the murder scene was borrowed from a friend of Patten’s just for that day, Patten packed it with a military shovel or entrenching tool and plastic restraints known as zip lines were found in the truck and in the shallow grave where Mickie Costanzo was buried.

There is also testimony by Costanzo’s friends that Patten was stalking the girl for well over a week before her murder and reports of a chilling note Patten wrote to a teacher that said “You have no idea what kind of monstrous things I’m capable of”.

Fratto’s testimony if she is called could be the final piece of the puzzle that would bring a premeditated murder finding by a jury. And with such a verdict the kidnapping charge against Patten could be used as an aggravating offense to justify a death penalty.

The final piece in that puzzle would be the text message and photo Fratto told the DA patten sent her after he kidnapped Costanzo.

According to Lockie while there is a record of the text messages being sent from Patten to Fratto during that time the content was not preserved by the phone company or in   Fratto’s phone.

According to Lockie in the six weeks between the murder and the day Fratto confessed to participating in the killing to Patten’s attorneys the content of the texts were dumped by her phone’s SIM card and her wireless provided T-Mobile does not keep a record of text content.

But while Fratto’s phone may have dumped them, the texts could still exist on Patten’s. Instead of six weeks, Patten was arrested just three days after the murder and his cel phone was confiscated. If the texts are there, they along with Fratto’s testimony could be enough to make patten the youngest death row inmate in Nevada.


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CNN To Feature Costanzo Murder

Posted on 27 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

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The story of murdered teen Micaela “Mickie” Costanzo could be featured on the CNN news program Anderson Cooper 360 as early as next month confirmed attorneys for her confessed killers Toni Fratto and Kody Patten.

According to Patten’s lead Attorney John Ohlson producers for the news program will be in Reno, Elko and Wendover this week interviewing people involved in the murder and its investigation.

The office of Elko Attorney David Lockie who represents Toni Fratto confirmed that Lockie had also been contacted for an interview.

But while the defense attorneys have been given a heads up to the tv program’s interest in last year’s murder of a 16 year old girl, law enforcement and the elko district Attorney’s office were apparently unaware of the national media spotlight soon to be focussed on them.

“I decline their request for an interview, what I call a ‘lawyer walk’,” Ohlson said. “But I was always a little mystified as to why this case never got national television exposure. It unfortunately has all the elements of the kind of story they usually go after.”

While Mickie Costanzo’s murder has been ignored by the national television media it has been covered thoroughly locally and on regional television in both Reno, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City almost from the moment the girl was reported missing.

In addition to the local media the story has also been picked up by most national newspapers and in the blogosphere primarily by politically liberal ones such as the Huffington Post and smaller evangelical Christian ones as well as the foreign Press primarily in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The common denominator in almost all of the non-local coverage is Fratto’s and to a lesser extent Patten’s membership in the LDS Church.

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In Great Britain and in Australia and other parts of the english speaking world Fratto is invariably referred to as the ‘Mormon Teen Killer’ either in headlines or the lead paragraph.

“When we see something like that,” said an LDS Church executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We often ask if they would give the same kind of headline if the criminal had been a Catholic or Jewish or a Muslim. The answer is obvious. but on the other hand Mormons are in the news with Mitt Romney as the presumed Republican nominee. Even before that we have seen in the last few years Mormons coming to the attention of the entertainment industry with series like ‘Big Love’. There is a Broadway play going on now called the ‘Book of Mormon’.”

Just why Mormons became a hot topic especially abroad even before the election season may be a symptom of the church’s success. 50 years ago there were fewer than 10,000 Mormons in Great Britain according to UK census figures, today that number is quickly approaching half a million.

“50 years ago most of the British never met a Mormon,” he continued. “Today many of them had. We are kind of new and therefore perhaps newsworthy.”

While novelty can explain part of the international media’s fascination with the Costanzo murder. there may be a dark side to its attention from the left wing and extreme anti-Mormon evangelical blogs.

In most of those mentions of Fratto’s Mormonism come with in one or two blog posts of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

“it’s kind of clumsy and I sincerely doubt it will be successful,” the LDS official continued. “While there are a very few evangelicals who may not for for Mr. Romney just because of his religion those numbers are pretty small.”

Indeed the most virulent attacks on Romney’s Mormonism have not come from the the very far Christian Right but rather from the often mainstream Liberal Left.

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According to the Gallup poll numbers 27 percent of Democrats would oppose a Mormon candidate, compared to 18 percent of Republicans. and according to a Pew poll Forty-one percent of liberal Democrats said they would be less likely to support a Mormon candidate.

Any attempt to tar romney with the murder of Micaela Costanzo simply because her killers were Mormons will probably only be successful with liberal anti-Mormons who would never vote for a Republican anyway.

Just how CNN will handle the Mormon tie in to the case remains to be seen. Cooper however earned the title of LDS hero early in the election cycle when he took on then candidate Rick Perry’s endorsement from pastor Robert Jeffress a virulent anti-Mormon and most recently took to task Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer for comments he made linking Romney to polygamy.

“But in this interview you mentioned six or seven times that his family came from,” Cooper asked. “His father was born into a polygamy commune in Mexico. Repeatedly mentioning that. It was Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather who practiced polygamy in the 1800s. Is that fair to raise?”


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UT Desperada To Psych Screen

Posted on 27 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

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Angela Hill, the Bonnie half of a pair of Utah desperados who terrorized Utah and Nevada over the New Year holiday will follow her boyfriend to Lakes Crossing in Reno for a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is mentally fit to stand trial.

Elko District Judge Nancy Porter ordered Hill to the mental hospital following a presentation by her attorney Fred Lee.

Last month Porter order Robert McFarland the male half of the Utah Bonnie and Clyde crime duo to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before entering a plea to seven felony counts.

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Facing charges including kidnapping, car theft and robbery with the use of a deadly weapon, McFarland is on suicide watch in the Elko County Jail said his Attorney Gary Woodbury.

Wendover gym owner Rattana Keomanivong was critically wounded in the New Year’s Eve crime spree of Angela Hill and Robert MacFarland that began with the double murder of an elderly Utah couple in Mt. Pleasant and ended four days later when the two desperadoes walked out of the high desert and surrender to police at the foot of the Pequops Mountains.

The owner of Wendover’s Animal House Gym, Keomanivong was hailed as a hero who by fighting back and thwarting an attempted car jacking played a key role in ending a murderous cross country crime spree.

In addition to the seven counts facing MacFarland, Hill is also charged with Keomanivong attempted murder. It was Hill who accompanied Keomanivong in her car while McFarland followed behind in the couples’ stolen car. As soon as the odds evened with only Hill and Keomanivong in the car,   Keomanivong attacked her car jacker by “biting her ear, neck and forcing her from the vehicle,”. Hill fired a shot at the woman as she drove away, according to the police report.

Keomanivong was struck in the back of the head, but she was able to drive herself to the police station and give police a description of the two before she was airlifted to Salt Lake for emergency surgery.

Thwarted in their attempt to steal Keomanivong’s vehicle the couple sped off west bound on I-80. Their stolen  Saturn was found abandoned in Wells.

If Keomanivong had not fought back and won, police speculate it could have been hours if not days before the two slipped up again.

“They had already established a pattern of attacking helpless people, robbing them, stealing their vehicles and killing them before anyone knew what was happening” said one detective. “If not for Mrs. Keomanivong they could have been well on their way to Reno or San Francisco with a trail of dead bodies behind them.”

Despite the accolades, Keomanivong must now live with injuries for the rest of her life. Early hope that she would completely recover have faded. A recent brain scan suggests that some of the damage may be permanent or take a very long time to heal. With medical bills piling up she still must go for weekly check ups.



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Strength In Numbers

Posted on 27 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

If a picture is worth a thousand words what is the value of two pictures?

The two photos we have in mind are those of Anne and Mitt Romney and their five boys and Hilary Rosen her lesbian ex-partner and their two adopted black children.

We aren’t making judgments now. We are counting.

Anne and Mitt made five kids.

Hilary Rosen made none.

In giving birth and raising five children Anne Romney is not unusual.

While the birthrate among all American women of child bearing age is 2.1. The birthrate among religious women is 4.5.

Hilary Rosen is also not unusual. Despite the noise of the new ‘modern’ ways to have children, the birth rate among college educated lesbians is virtually nil and even with adopting someone else’s babies the average number of adopted kids per lesbian or homosexual couples is less than 1.

Indeed the heterosexual left’s birthrate is just slightly over 1.0.

Now any population be it panda bears or woodpeckers or people who produce fewer young than the adults will sooner or later become extinct.

Zoo keepers can try with artificial insemination to stem the flow, but the cold hard truth is you don’t make babies you are going extinct.

Its not a question of morality.

Its not about politics.

Its counting.

Five is more than none.

It always has been and always will be.

Of course there is no guarantee the Romney boys will be conservatives. But of the five that do they will have lots and lots of kids. Those that don’t won’t.

The battle for the future of America is being waged in the womb and the liberals have left the arena.

Sooner or later they won’t even be able to field a team.

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West Wendover JP Court April 24, 2012 Judge Reese Melville Presiding

Posted on 27 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

9:00 a.m.

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MC IN TR 12-5152 Andres Esparza-Guerrero Citation Arraignment Yes Urinating in Public
JC CR M 12-4949 Jeffery Lynn Walker Criminal Arraignment Domestic Violence or Battery
JC CR M 12-4727 Danean Inez Delgado Criminal Arraignment Domestic Violence – 2nd or Battery
MC IN TR 12-5112 Eugene Joseph Finnerty Citation Arraignment Urinating in Public
JC IN TR 12-5065 Rosendo Alexander Herrera-Quintero Citation Arraignment No Valid License
JC IN TR 12-5108 White Eagle Serawop Citation Arraignment Basic Speed RuleNo Valid License

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Videoconference 11:00 a.m.

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Malinda Atkinson Change of Plea Battery Disturbing Peace

Theresa Allen Citation Arraignment No Insurance

Theresa Allen Citation Arraignment Drug Paraph

Theresa Allen Citation Arraignment DL Not in Possession


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18 Years To Parole? Fratto Could See Life Behind Bars

Posted on 20 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

Toni Fratto will be a middle aged woman when she breaths free air again.

White Pine District Judge Dan Papez imposed the harshest sentences he could on the West Wendover teen of life in prison plus 20 years for Fratto’s part in the vicious killing last year of 16 year old Micaela Costanzo.

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According to law Fratto must serve at least 10 years of her life sentence before she is eligible for parole and then at least eight years of the enhancement for use of a deadly weapon before she could see a release from prison. With her time already served in the Elko County Jail taken into account Fratto could conceivably serve just 17 more years in prison before she is released.

But while possible it is considered extremely unlikely that Fratto will serve the bare minimum of her sentence. Most first parole requests especially for violent crimes such as Fratto’s are denied almost as a matter of course. In addition, relatives of the victim are always notified and invited to attend and participate in parole hearings by the board.

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While predicting the future is a game for fools, most would agree that anyone from Mickie Costanzo’s family will plead with the board to release their daughter’s killer early is an extremely unlikely scenario. Much more likely would be a passionate request to keep Fratto behind bars longer.

The biggest factor in just how long Toni Fratto will remain behind bars is of course Toni Fratto and even the most generous assessment of the girl’s character does not bode well for an early release.

Fratto a girl with no history of any child abuse from a large family and a loving home and a devout religious upbringing helped commit the most violent, vicious murders in Wendover’s history.

While her few defenders have blamed Kody Patten’s influence on the girl, the fact remains that Fratto came from a place few inmates in the Nevada woman’s prison can imagine let alone dream about.

And yet surrounded by this broad deep support network, Toni Fratto slaughtered a 16 year old girl because as suggested by her psychological report Kody Patten told her to or as suggested by Patten’s lawyers Fratto was cold calculating evil girl.

Whether as sheep or black widow Fratto’s personality does not bode well for keeping out of serious trouble at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center.

The prison located in North Las Vegas houses all Nevada women felons from those convicted of so called victimless crimes to the most brutal vicious women in the state.

According to its website there are currently 880 inmates in the facility which has the capacity for 950. While the prison boast several rehabilitation programs entry into them is reserved for good nonviolent inmates.

Although not as stressful or as violent as a men’s prison the facility has seen its share of inmate on inmate violence and even inmate on staff violence.

If Toni Fratto is a sheep there are easily over 100 female Kody Paten’s at Florence McClure to get her to do their bidding and if she is a black widow she will be one among many.

Either way Fratto could rack up a list of infractions that would kill her chances of an early release.

The enhancement part of Fratto’s sentence also puts her in the precarious position of being on parole while in prison. The eight year clock on the weapon enhancement only starts ticking after she wins parole on her second degree murder conviction. If she commits another crime or commits an infraction grievous enough to merit the revocation of her parole, the enhancement clock stops until or if she wins parole again for second degree murder.

“People look at the minimum time she could serve and might feel it isn’t enough,” said an attorney close to the case. “But that is the minimum if she becomes a model prisoner. Yes it is possible. But the thing is she already proved she was anything but a model citizen.”

A prison official interviewed ten years ago put it this way.

“For a very few of the inmates here, the minimum is a real goal and they keep their noses clean,” he said. “But you have to understand you aren’t dealing with normal people. They really don’t have control over their impulses. Most of the inmates here will serve everyday of their maximum sentence.”

In Fratto’s case her maximum is life.


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Boatman’s Letter Had No Effect On Judge’s Sentence

Posted on 20 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

The 26 character references Toni Fratto’s defense team submitted to Judge Dan Papez in the hopes of a lighter sentence at best had no effect and even may have influenced Judge Dan Papez to impose a harsher sentence.

Papez made specific mention of the letters while sentencing Fratto several times contrasting the girl portrayed in them to the horrific brutal crime she committed.

“In my 20 years on the bench this is a vicious and brutal crime as I have seen,” Papez said. “Yet you came from a good home, You were well liked at school and were active in church as these letters say. There are lot of facts in this case regarding the How?, But there is nothing that answers the Why?”

While referencing the letters Papez made no mention of Fratto’s Parole and Probation pre sentence report. It was a telling omission. According to sources close to the case the P & P report recommended just 32 months minimum on the weapon enhancement part of Fratto’s sentence.

Under Nevada Sentencing Guidelines and Fratto’s plea bargain, Papez had no discretion on Fratto’s ten years to life sentence for second degree murder. He did however have some on the weapons enhancement part of her sentence and the White Pine county Judge invoked the stiffest penalty he could 96 months to 240 months.

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Subtracting the year Fratto has served in Elko county Jail, the Wendover teen could have her first parole hearing in 2021. But even if she wins parole she will still have serve at least an additional eight years behind bars before she sees freedom. (see related story).

In voicing his dismay at the contrast between the girl portrayed in the letters with her admitted actions in the killing of Mickie Costanzo, Papez echoed the same almost disbelief of the Wendover community.

“You kind of wish there was something, anything there to explain this,” said one court watcher. “But there is no evidence of child abuse, no history of trauma, no history of her being violent. Nice girls from nice families aren’t supposed to commit vicious murders. If Toni Fratto can do something like that anyone could.”

In interviews after the sentencing Fratto’s attorneys and her parents suggested that Fratto had been the victim of abuse from Patten and referenced a video of her accomplice choking her in school two months before the murder.

Neither Fratto or her parents pressed charges against Patten who had a long history of violent and aggressive behavior dating back to elementary school.

“Everyone suspected Kody the minute Micaela went missing,” said one teacher. “The kid was bad news from the moment he got here in the seventh grade. What really shocking is Toni. Yeah she was a nothing. But she came from a good religious family. She was never in any trouble. Never violent never in even an argument, and she does this? It is hard to wrap your head around.”

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Apart from their affect or non-effect in her sentencing one letter written by local JP candidate and juvenile probation officer Brian Boatman could cost him the election.

“It wasn’t a leniency letter like a lot of people are saying,” Boatman said in an interview with the Advocate. “I just recounted how I knew her by her baby sitting my kids and through church camps. I believe I also wrote she wasn’t a throwaway kid and that I believed she was salvageable.”

“I don’t believe he (Boatman) ever used the word leniency,” said a source close to the case who read the letter. “On the other hand these types of letters are sent to the court before sentencing hopefully to influence sentencing. You don’t have to be a genius to know that only the supportive letters are going to forwarded to the judge.”

Boatman added that he no longer had a copy of his letter and District Judge Dan Papez said he would not release any letter until after sentencing if at all.

While the exact contents of Boatman’s letter may not be known at least for the near future the very fact that he wrote one is already causing something of a backlash. His campaign signs are reportedly disappearing from West Wendover lawns and his support is also said to be withering.

“I was kind of leaning his way,” said a former City Councilman Mike Gunter. “But not anymore. There is no way I would vote for him now. I am angry.”

Of the 26 letters supporting Fratto the vast majority are authored by relatives or long time friends of the Fratto family. Boatman who is now the Juvenile Probation Officer at West Wendover High School is the sole law enforcement officer on the list and as a candidate of Justice of the Peace the only person on the list that can be classified as a “public” person.

It will be the editorial position of the High Desert Advocate not to release the names of the other authors at least for the time being.

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Wendover Attempted Murder

Posted on 20 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

A West Wendover man was charged with attempted murder for his part in a domestic disturbance Monday night.

Salvador Avila, 20, of West Wendover was booked into the Elko County Jail on a $12,500 bail following his arrest Tuesday on one count each of attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon during a fight at residence the previous day.

According to WWPD press release, officers were dispatched to the home after dispatch received reports of a violent fight in progress.

Upon arrival officers found a severely beaten man. Witnesses related that he had been beaten with a “long wooden object” by two men who had since left the scene.

The next day one of the men, identified as Avila was located and arrested. Further arrests are pending reported the WWPD.





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Shoshone Win, Goshutes Lose

Posted on 20 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

It was a mixed week of news for local American Indian tribes.

First the good: The Western Shoshone of Elko County is one of 41 American Indian tribes which will split a billion dollar settlement with the U.S. government.

The Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians are not commenting on how much money they will receive as part of their settlement and Department of Interior press spokesman Adam Fetcher declined to comment, citing confidentiality.

The Te-Moak Tribe is made up of four colonies: the Battle Mountain Band Colony, the Elko Band Colony, the South Fork Band Colony and the Wells Band Colony. Combined they have an enrollment of 2.096, according to information on their web site.

Nationally, the $1.02 billion in claims involve money lost in mismanaged accounts and from royalties for oil, gas, grazing and timber rights on tribal lands. Some are a century old.

“These settlements fairly and honorably resolve historical grievances over the accounting and management of tribal trust funds, trust lands, and other non-monetary trust resources that, for far too long, have been a source of conflict between Indian tribes and the United States,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

But while the Temoke are celebrating this month, the Goshutes, their neighbors to the east are mourning.

The Nevada State Engineer’s decision to supports the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposed pipeline despite numerous objections from the Goshute Nation and many other scientists who warn that the finite aquifers of the Snake and Spring Valley targeted by the SNWA pipeline would not sustain this amount of extraction without causing ecosystem collapse as springs dry and species become extinct. It could be said that removal of water from the sovereign Goshute Nation by the SNWA is a form of cultural genocide.

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Jason King published a decision today on the most important water rights battle ever decided by any Nevada State Engineer. The ruling could allow for 83,988 acre feet of water to be removed from four valleys in the Great Salt Lake Desert aquifer to send to Las Vegas under a proposal made by the Southern Nevada Water Authority. SNWA had applied for 125,976 acre-feet from these valleys and plans to request more from Snake Valley.

The Goshute Tribe has been defending itself from the threat of this project for nine years, but with little support from the federal government, which has a trust responsibility to protect the tribe’s interests. On its own, the tribe interviewed almost every one of its tribal elders to document cultural uses and sites they consider sacred within its ancestral landscape in preparation for this hearing. The tribe detailed its hunting and gathering areas, massacre sites, historic villages, burial sites, sacred springs, and more as part of this process. This substantive information was presented to the State Engineer during the six week hearing (see cultural map online which is available for media use), but does not appear to have influenced the decision in any meaningful way.

Tribal Chairman Ed Naranjo stated, “I fear Mr. King’s decision might literally wipe out our tribe. What is most frustrating though, is that millions of people who will be severely impacted by this project, have never even heard of it. Goshute people never damaged the earth, we never messed with the balance, but others are out to destroy us, and seemingly for only one reason, the almighty dollar.”

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Additionally, six Goshute witnesses testified and detailed the Goshute’s strong cultural ties to this area and spiritual beliefs about the importance of water. During this testimony, SNWA’s attorney asked the Goshute witness to explain the difference between Goshute spiritual beliefs, and his own childhood belief in the bogeyman. The were numerous protestants arguing against SNWA’s proposal during the hearing, including the LDS Church, Salt Lake, Millard, Juab, and Tooele Counties in Utah, Great Basin Water Network, and the Ely and Duckwater Shoshone Tribes.

The Goshute tribe has 30 days to decide whether to appeal of the State Engineers decision in court.

Vice-Chair of the Goshute Tribal Council, Madeline Greymountain says, “Las Vegas might believe it has hit the jackpot with today’s decision, but the tribe has no intentions of letting this go without more fight. Goshute People are determined to protect the abundant life that exists in Spring Valley. These natural resources are vital to our existence, spiritual balance and well-being. This land is part of our ancestral lineage. It is as important to our people today, as it was to our past, and will be to our future generations. So we must protect it in every way we can.

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Elko District Court April 9 & 16 2012 Judge Nancy Porter Presiding

Posted on 19 April 2012 by Howard Copelan

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   CR-FO-12-69 Morrison, Sean Thomas (DA/Gallagher) Arraignment (Burglary) (Robbery)

   CR-FP-07-1551 Fullmer, James Theodore (DA/Green) Sentencing (Driving Under the Influence with One Prior Conviction)

   CR-FP-11-1597 Guerrero, Raul (DA/Green) Arraignment (Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Sale)

   CR-FP-09-1221 Olsen, Larry D. (DA/Kump) Sentencing (Driving Under the Influence with One or More Prior Felony DUI Convictions)

   CR-FP-10-2457 Johnson, Jennifer Ann (DA/Kump) Trial Setting (Trafficking in a Schedule I Controlled Substance)

   CR-FO-12-69 Paige, Bryan Lee (DA/Stephenson) Arraignment (Burglary) (Robbery)

   CR-FO-11-1179 Fisher, Jeffrey Lowell (DA/Stephenson) Arraignment (Burglary)

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April 16, 2012


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CR-FP-11-0937 Pace, Justin (DA/Wilkin) Arraignment (Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act)

   CR-FP-11-1324 Hansen, Joshua James (DA/Shurtz) Arraignment (Possession of a Controlled Substance)

   CR-FO-11-1475 Ipson, Christopher Shawn (DA/Stewart) Sentencing (Attempted Uttering of a Forged Instrument)

   CR-FO-11-691 Watson, James Alvin (DA/Stewart) Competency Hearing

   CR-FO-11-1573 Gonzales, Mikel Rory (DA/Stewart) Arraignment (Conspiracy to Commit Burglary)

   CR-FP-11-720 Schwatka, Franklin Otto (DA/Stewart) Status Hearing (Unlawful Use of a Controlled Substance)


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