616 P.2d 388 (Nev. 1980), 10848, Shults v. State

Docket Nº:10848.
Citation:616 P.2d 388, 96 Nev. 742
Party Name:Lawrence Lee SHULTS, Appellant, v. The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.
Case Date:September 05, 1980
Court:Supreme Court of Nevada
 
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Page 388

616 P.2d 388 (Nev. 1980)

96 Nev. 742

Lawrence Lee SHULTS, Appellant,

v.

The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.

No. 10848.

Supreme Court of Nevada.

September 5, 1980.

Page 389

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 390

Morgan D. Harris, Clark County Public Defender, and Terrence M. Jackson, Deputy Public Defender, Las Vegas, for appellant.

Richard H. Bryan, Atty. Gen., Carson City, and Robert J. Miller, Dist. Atty. of Clark County, and James N. Tufteland, Deputy Dist. Atty., Las Vegas, for respondent.

[96 Nev. 744] OPINION

MANOUKIAN, Justice:

On January 3, 1978, a jury found appellant guilty of murder in the first degree. Thereafter, the trial judge sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole. The evidence is not challenged as insufficient. In this appeal, appellant contends that the trial court erred: (1) by allowing admission of testimony of a peace officer as to conversations with appellant's wife; (2) by admitting evidence of details of a robbery by appellant; (3) by admitting evidence of escapes by appellant; and (4) by admitting hearsay statements of the victim. We affirm.

On October 21, 1975, the decomposed body of a white male adult was discovered in a shallow rock-covered grave off of state highway 52 near Las Vegas. Appellant was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of William Harvey Singley and, in [96 Nev. 745] October of 1976, was extradited from Colorado where he was serving a twenty-year sentence for armed robbery.

At trial, a Detective Aldrich of Colorado Springs testified that, in May of 1975, appellant Shults and his wife, Norma, had been arrested along with Singley and a George Janicek for the robbery of a Montgomery Ward store in Colorado. During appellant's preliminary hearing in Colorado, appellant learned that the victim in this case, William Singley, was the source of information regarding particular details about the robbery. Approximately one month later, on July 17, 1975, Singley agreed to testify at appellant's trial on the robbery charge in exchange for a reduced charge to which he pled guilty. 1 Detective Aldrich then testified that on October 20, 1975, he met with his division chief and with Norma Shults in Colorado. After this meeting, Aldrich placed a telephone call to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at which time he informed Lieutenant Avants that he had information that there was a homicide victim located in the desert near Mt. Charleston.

Colorado Springs Detective Andrew Smit testified as to his May 17, 1975 interview with Singley. Detective Smit was told by Singley that he was afraid that appellant would kill him if Singley provided information in connection with appellant's involvement in the Montgomery Ward robbery. Another witness, Robert Howard, testified that in late July of 1975 the victim, William Singley, acted worried about something. The witness stated that Singley was afraid that someone was going to "waste" him although he did not say who. The witness then stated that he had loaned his 1974 blue Pinto to the victim. The vehicle was not returned and the witness never saw Singley again. In the latter part of August, Howard received information that his car was in Las Vegas. Over the labor day weekend, Howard retrieved his automobile and discovered that a blanket was missing, as well as the blue carpet which had covered the spare tire compartment. Shotgun shells were found in the back of the car. Howard then identified the blanket which had been found around the victim as the one missing from his car.

Several witnesses testified that appellant had admitted killing Singley. One witness, Edmund Friedrich, testified that he had been told by appellant that appellant had shot the victim twice and then buried him in a rock grave. Appellant stated that he had returned to the grave shortly thereafter to make sure that the body was buried. Vickie Ritter testified that appellant had told her that he had killed Singley and that Janicek was next. Mary Kay Fuller testified that she had talked to appellant just [96 Nev. 746]

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after the fourth of July in 1975. At the time, appellant stated that he was mad at Singley and Janicek because they were going to testify against appellant as to the robbery. In late July, Ms. Fuller saw appellant and the victim together. On this occasion, Ms. Fuller loaned her pickup to the two men in exchange for a blue Pinto the two men had been driving. The pickup contained a .12 gauge shotgun belonging to Ms. Fuller's husband. The next day, on July 29, Ms. Fuller had reacquired possession of her pickup and noticed that the shotgun was missing. Ms. Fuller asked appellant where the shotgun was and appellant said, "Don't worry about it, it's out in Nevada." Appellant said it was "too hot" to bring back at that time...

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