In a twist that surprised defense attorneys, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Autumn Cole in connection with the slaying of her mother.
Last month, the Clark County district attorney's death penalty committee had ruled that it planned to seek capital punishment for only Joseph Perez, 45, Cole's boyfriend and the person authorities suspect strangled Katherine Cole with a pillowcase twisted into a ligature.
But District Attorney David Roger told the Review-Journal on Thursday that before his office filed notice on Sept. 29 to seek the death penalty against Perez, new evidence surfaced against Autumn Cole, 44.
"After we met, but before the deadline, we received additional physical evidence that linked her directly to the murder," Roger said.
He declined to specify what evidence changed the committee's decision.
As a result of the death penalty notice, Autumn Cole's defense lawyer, Deputy Special Public Defender Ivette Maningo, asked District Judge Valerie Adair to delay the trial that was set to start next week.
On Thursday, Adair set a new trial date for Jan. 28, 2013.
Maningo said she was "surprised" by the move and had never known the committee to change a decision.
The committee's decision not to seek the death penalty against the couple's friend, Lorenzo Cardenas-Sanchez, 38, who authorities allege was the getaway driver, remained unchanged.
A grand jury indicted the three defendants in August on multiple felonies, including murder, robbery and kidnapping charges.
They all have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors have called the slaying cold-blooded.
They allege Autumn Cole and her co-defendants knew when her mother would be home from work and timed a break-in accordingly, leading to the strangulation of the woman.
Katherine Cole's body was discovered by police July 29 in the garage of her home near Valley View and Oakey boulevards.
All three defendants are being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.
The death penalty committee, whose meetings are not open to the public, looks at three factors when considering capital punishment: whether there are aggravating factors in the case, whether a jury would impose the death penalty as punishment and whether a conviction would stand up under appeal.
If the panel members answered no to one of those factors, the committee would decide not to seek death for a defendant.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.