Co-defendant's trial called unfair


CARSON CITY -- A former Clark County Republican official given four life sentences for his conviction in the 2004 deaths of his ex-wife and her father deserves a new trial because he was unfairly prosecuted together with the actual perpetrator of the crimes, an attorney told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

John Chartier, onetime Clark County Republican Party treasurer, was hampered in presenting his defense because he was tried simultaneously with David Lee Wilcox, who was also convicted in the August 2004 stabbing deaths of Rachel Bernat and her father, Carlos Aragon, said Las Vegas attorney JoNell Thomas.

The defenses presented by the two men at their 2006 trial were "mutually antagonistic" and the cases should have been prosecuted separately, Thomas told a panel of the Supreme Court.

Evidence at trial supported the position that Wilcox actually committed the murders, she said. But Wilcox's defense attorney repeatedly attempted to convince the jury that Chartier was at the crime scene and was responsible for the killings, Thomas said.

Chartier, who had an alibi, could not defend himself against these allegations and so could not get a fair trial, she said.

But David Stanton, one of the case prosecutors, said the there was no need to sever the trials of the two men. Both were charged with the same crimes and the evidence of who actually committed the murders was in some dispute at the trial, he said.

There was some evidence to suggest two different knives were used, Stanton told the court.

The link between the two men came out at the trial as a result of motive, Stanton said. Wilcox had no motive to kill Chartier's ex-wife and her father other than because of his friendship with Chartier, Stanton said.

Chartier's motive as put forth by prosecutors was a bitter custody dispute. Bernat was planning to move to New Mexico and would have taken the couple's then-pre-school-age son, Ezekial, with her. Chartier also was financially strapped at the time.

Thomas raised several other issues in the appeal, including the introduction of prejudicial evidence that was unrelated to the case.

Wilcox has already had his convictions for the crimes upheld by the Supreme Court.

Chartier's appeal will be ruled on later by the court.

By SEAN WHALEY

REVIEW-JOURNAL CAPITAL BUREAU

CARSON CITY -- A former Clark County Republican official given four life sentences for his conviction in the 2004 deaths of his ex-wife and her father deserves a new trial because he was unfairly prosecuted together with the actual perpetrator of the crimes, an attorney told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

John Chartier, onetime Clark County Republican Party treasurer, was hampered in presenting his defense because he was tried simultaneously with David Lee Wilcox, who was also convicted in the August 2004 stabbing deaths of Rachel Bernat and her father, Carlos Aragon, said Las Vegas attorney JoNell Thomas.

The defenses presented by the two men at their 2006 trial were "mutually antagonistic" and the cases should have been prosecuted separately, Thomas told a panel of the Supreme Court.

Evidence at trial supported the position that Wilcox actually committed the murders, she said. But Wilcox's defense attorney repeatedly attempted to convince the jury that Chartier was at the crime scene and was responsible for the killings, Thomas said.

Chartier, who had an alibi, could not defend himself against these allegations and so could not get a fair trial, she said.

But David Stanton, one of the case prosecutors, said the there was no need to sever the trials of the two men. Both were charged with the same crimes and the evidence of who actually committed the murders was in some dispute at the trial, he said.

There was some evidence to suggest two different knives were used, Stanton told the court.

The link between the two men came out at the trial as a result of motive, Stanton said. Wilcox had no motive to kill Chartier's ex-wife and her father other than because of his friendship with Chartier, Stanton said.

Chartier's motive as put forth by prosecutors was a bitter custody dispute. Bernat was planning to move to New Mexico and would have taken the couple's then-pre-school-age son, Ezekial, with her. Chartier also was financially strapped at the time.

Thomas raised several other issues in the appeal, including the introduction of prejudicial evidence that was unrelated to the case.

Wilcox has already had his convictions for the crimes upheld by the Supreme Court.

Chartier's appeal will be ruled on later by the court.

 

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