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December 18, 2014

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Murder trial delayed at Nevada Supreme Court as judge considers legality of man’s confession

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Metro Police arrested Ricardo Robles-Nieves, 33, on Tuesday in connection with murder with a deadly weapon.

The Nevada Supreme Court has delayed the Las Vegas murder trial of Ricardo Robles-Nieves to allow the court to consider if his confession to Las Vegas police was illegally obtained.

Clark County District Judge Doug Smith ruled the alleged confession could not be introduced at trial because improper tactics were used by a detective in obtaining the admissions.

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office appealed to the Supreme Court, asking that the confession stand and that the trial be delayed until the court ruling.

Robles-Nieves objected to the delay of a trial, citing his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Supreme Court previously granted a motion in June to delay the trial date but issued a full opinion Thursday on the issue.

Robles-Nieves is accused of the fatal shooting of Fabian Rodriguez in a parking lot of an apartment on Oct. 30, 2011.

Under questioning by Detective Damien Young, Robles-Nieves admitted to the killing for money and drugs. But the confession was suppressed by the District Court on grounds that the detective lied to the suspect. He allegedly told Robles-Nieves that he would be going home to Mexico and that no charges would be brought against him. Smith found that the detective told the suspect “several deliberate falsehoods.”

The Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice James Hardesty, said there is no showing that a delay in the trial would cause the defendant “irreparable harm.” The court promised to speed up its consideration of whether the confession should be allowed to be introduced at trial.

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In another ruling Thursday, the court refused to erase the first-degree murder conviction of Ronnie Brass, sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of his brother-in-law, Ernest Mitchell, in January 2009 in Las Vegas.

Brass died before his appeal to the Supreme Court could be considered. Defense lawyers asked the court to “abate” the conviction and dismiss the charges, but the court said the lawyers were not authorized to act on behalf of Brass in this case and rejected the petition to drop the conviction.

The court also sent back to Clark County District Judge Valerie Adair a case to determine if there was good cause for Deangelo Carroll failing to file his appeal within a given deadline. Carroll was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2005 shooting death of Palomino Club doorman Timothy Hadland in Las Vegas. He was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 40 years.

On Wednesday, the court rejected the petitions of:

• Lee Vincent, sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of 20 years to life for the killing in Las Vegas of Richard Morris during a robbery in September 2006. Vincent claims ineffective assistance of his attorney at trial.

• Julius Bradford, sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of 20 years to life for the shooting death of Benito Zambrano-Lopez in Las Vegas in January 2003. He maintained there were improper jury instructions and insufficient evidence to convict him of first-degree murder.

• Nicolas Felix, sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the kidnapping of Cleofas Martinez and Julio Martinez and placing them in suitcase in the trunk of a car, where they suffocated to death in Las Vegas in April 2002. He claimed his trial attorney coerced him into pleading guilty and failed to inform him he had a right to appeal.

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