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Arraignment of suspect in decades-old slayings delayed

Updated Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 | 11:34 a.m.

Nathan Burket

Nathan Burket

Tina Mitchell

Tina Mitchell

Barbara Cox

Barbara Cox

A felony arraignment for Nathan Burkett, the man accused of killing two women decades ago, was delayed until next week to give the prosecution and defense more time to review the case.

Clark Patrick, a special public defender, and Pam Weckerly, chief deputy district attorney, need to examine new evidence to determine there are no conflicts with handling the case, Patrick told Justice of the Peace Eric A. Goodman in a hearing Friday in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Goodman agreed to postpone the hearing until Aug. 16.

Burkett, shackled at his hands and feet, appeared in court for the hearing, which lasted less than a minute. He wore standard blue jail attire and sat in a wheelchair. The 62-year-old has been charged with two counts each of murder and sexual assault in connection with the deaths of Barbara Ann Cox and Tina Mitchell.

The strangled body of Cox, 22, was found April 22, 1978, at an apartment complex in the 200 block of West Bonanza Road, Metro Police said. Mitchell’s body was discovered Feb. 2, 1994, at an apartment complex in the 900 block of H Street — about a half mile from where authorities found Cox’s body years earlier. Mitchell, 27, also had been strangled.

DNA evidence – forensic scientists reported a match between him and a sperm sample found on Cox's body – led to Burkett being returned earlier this week to Las Vegas to face charges in the women’s death, police said. A grant from the U.S. Justice Department helped fund the forensic testing.

Last month, authorities tracked Burkett to his sister’s home outside Picayune, Miss., and told him a search warrant had been issued to collect a DNA sample. Forensic scientists confirmed the new sample also matched evidence from Cox and Mitchell's bodies.

Burkett, who has a long criminal history, was extradited from Mississippi and is in custody at the Clark County Detention Center without bail. He previously served six years of a 115-month sentence after being convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the 2002 death of 41-year-old Valetter Jean Bousley, who was found strangled to death in the 1300 block of F Street. His criminal record also includes a manslaughter conviction in 1982 in Mississippi.

Burkett lived in the Las Vegas Valley on and off and was arrested on more than a dozen offenses, starting in 1975 with a disorderly conduct count. He went on to be arrested on counts of robbery, kidnapping, battery with a deadly weapon, sexual assault, and battery domestic violence, among others.

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