Inmate who spent decades on Nevada death row dies in Las Vegas


An inmate who killed two men in the early 1980s and spent three decades on and off Nevada's death row died at a Las Vegas hospital after suffering from an unidentified medical condition, Department of Corrections officials said Wednesday.

Robert Farmer, 56, died of natural causes Tuesday night.

Corrections spokesman Steve Suwe said Farmer was transferred from Ely State Prison to High Desert State Prison in Southern Nevada on April 18. He was taken that same day to Valley Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he died a week later.

Farmer was arrested in Florida in 1982 and returned to Nevada to face separate charges in Reno and Las Vegas. According to court records, he was convicted in Washoe County that same year of armed robbery and first-degree kidnapping. In 1983, he was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of Thomas Kane, and possession of stolen property. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In March 1984, Farmer pleaded guilty in Clark County to first-degree murder for the death of Las Vegas taxicab driver Greg Gelunas, and he was sentenced to death by a three-judge panel.

But the Nevada Supreme Court vacated his death sentence in 2007 .

Prosecutors then sought a new penalty phase hearing to reimpose Farmer's death sentence.

Farmer appealed, contending a new hearing based on the same aggravating circumstances was unconstitutional because it would amount to double jeopardy.

In February, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected those arguments, ruling that "the state constitutionally may attempt once against to impose the death penalty, if it decides that justice so requires."

 

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