The below article appeared in 2005 Nevada news after the US Supreme Court ruled that those under age 18 could not receive the death penalty.
Court allows three in Nevada to live
Defendants were under 18 when slayings occurred
CORRECTION — 3/4/05
In a Wednesday Review-Journal story on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the execution of juveniles, a photo accompanying the story showed a man who is not death row inmate Michael Domingues, who was 16 when he killed a woman and her 4-year-old son during a robbery in Las Vegas in 1993. The man pictured, named Michael Dominguez, was sentenced to prison in 1988 after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the contract slayings of a California couple.
She was 16 when two girls were stabbed
Three murder defendants accused of committing heinous crimes in Southern Nevada no longer face a possible death sentence following the U.S. Supreme Court’s elimination of capital punishment for juvenile killers Tuesday.
In a ruling praised by defense attorneys and panned by Clark County prosecutors, the high court ruled that suspects under the age of 18 lack the maturity and intellectual development to understand the ramifications of their actions.
“It’s a great day for teenaged killers and a dark day for families of murder victims,” District Attorney David Roger said.
But Las Vegas Valley defense attorneys said the decision was long overdue.
“Even though we don’t want them to smoke or drink, we want to be able to execute them?” defense attorney Tom Pitaro said. “We are no longer aligned with the Pakistans and Saudi Arabias of the world.”
Nevada law had allowed for the death penalty for people 16 and older, and Tuesday’s ruling immediately affects three pending criminal cases in Southern Nevada.
• Monique Maestas. Maestas was 16 when she was accused of stabbing Brittney Bergeron, 11, and her 3-year-old half sister, Kristyanna Cowan, in Mesquite in 2003. Cowan was slain and Bergeron was left paralyzed in what authorities said was an act of retribution for a bogus drug deal.
Maestas and her then-19-year-old brother, Beau, were charged with first-degree murder. They are each awaiting trial.
If Monique Maestas had been convicted and sentenced to death, she would have been the youngest female on death row in the nation.
“They should have never been seeking the death penalty against children,” said Special Public Defender David Schieck, whose office represents Monique Maestas.
Beau Maestas still faces capital punishment.
• Michael Domingues was 16 when he killed a woman and her 4-year-old son during a robbery in Las Vegas in 1993. Domingues, according to Roger, tried to electrocute the child in the process of killing him.
Domingues was sentenced to death in 1994, making him the youngest person in modern history to receive a death sentence in Nevada. Prosecutors and defense attorneys said Domingues’s sentence is nullified by Tuesday’s ruling.
• Shane Myers. Myers is one of a group of teens charged with luring teenager Jared Whaley into the desert on the outskirts of Boulder City, then murdering him in 2003. Myers was 17 at the time of the crime, and he is awaiting trial.
Prosecutors had filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty, but Pitaro, who is Myers’ attorney, said he had filed motions seeking to have the death penalty removed from Myers case based on the same issues cited in Tuesday’s ruling.
“I was jumping up and down,” Pitaro said of the ruling. “I was as happy as could be.”
Tuesday’s decision by the Supreme Court is one of a string of orders affecting death penalty cases in Nevada. In 2002, the Supreme Court ordered that juries, not judges, must impose a sentence of death. The court has also ruled that the mentally retarded cannot be executed.