Friday, Aug. 17, 2012 | 11:25 a.m.
A judge on Friday declined to take action against Metro Police after the department voluntarily pulled from its website a video in which a homicide lieutenant referred to the suspect in the decades-old slayings of two Las Vegas women as “an animal” and a “serial killer.”
The two-and-a-half-minute video was at the center of a hearing Friday morning in Las Vegas Justice Court, in which lawyers for Nathaniel Burkett, 62, who is charged in the deaths of Barbara Ann Cox, 22, and Tina Mitchell, 27, argued that Lt. Ray Steiber’s comments in the video were prejudicial and violated the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct.
In a motion filed Thursday, Deputy Special Public Defender Alzora Jackson asked that the court order Metro to remove the video, as well as a longer 10-minute video and a press release announcing Burkett’s arrest, from its website and video-sharing site YouTube. The motion argued that such statements made outside the courtroom impacted Burkett’s chances at receiving a fair trial.
Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman denied the motion Friday, calling the issue a “moot point” because Metro already had taken down the shorter video, and that the press release and longer video didn’t contain the same controversial language.
Burkett, who appeared in Friday morning's hearing, has been charged with two counts each of murder and sexual assault in connection with the deaths of Cox and Mitchell.
Police said Cox’s strangled body was found April 22, 1978, at an apartment complex in the 200 block of West Bonanza Road. More than a decade later, on Feb. 2, 1994, Mitchell was discovered strangled at an apartment complex in the 900 block of H Street, about a half mile from where Cox’s body was found.
Burkett has a criminal history that includes two manslaughter convictions. In 1982, he was convicted of manslaughter in Mississippi.
In Nevada, he served six years of a 115-month sentence after being convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the 2002 death of Valetter Jean Bousley. The 41-year-old was found strangled to death in the 1300 block of F Street.
Burkett remains in custody at the Clark County Detention Center without bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5.