Three suspects indicted Wednesday in the slaying of Katherine Cole, including her daughter, could face the death penalty for what prosecutors allege was a cold-blooded conspiracy.
Prosecutor Pam Weckerly said Autumn Cole, 44, knew when her mother would be home from work and timed a break-in accordingly, leading to the strangulation of the 68-year-old woman.
A grand jury indicted Autumn Cole, Joseph Perez, 45, and Lorenzo Cardenas-Sanchez, 38, on multiple felonies, including murder, robbery and kidnapping charges.
Katherine Cole's body was discovered by police July 29 in the garage of her home near Valley View and Oakey boulevards.
She was strangled with a pillowcase twisted into a ligature, court documents show.
All three defendants are being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.
The case is expected to be reviewed by the district attorney's death penalty committee, which will decide within the coming weeks whether prosecutors should seek capital punishment for any of the defendants.
The committee will look at the aggravating factors in the case including that the victim was older than 60.
The defendants' criminal history will play a role in the decision. Autumn Cole and Cardenas-Sanchez have minor criminal histories, but Perez has five felony convictions including two for sexual assault.
At first, investigators thought Katherine Cole had interrupted burglars and was then killed.
But Weckerly told District Judge Linda Bell the prosecution's theory of the slaying included a sophisticated plan by the defendants to be waiting for Katherine Cole when she came home from her job at the South Point hotel-casino.
Perez originally told police he, girlfriend Autumn Cole and Cardenas-Sanchez went to burglarize the woman's home. And when Katherine Cole came home early, they killed her.
But in an August interview with the Review-Journal, Perez insisted Autumn Cole had nothing to do with it.
Perez said all three regularly used drugs together. Autumn Cole was Perez's live-in girlfriend, and Cardenas-Sanchez was a small-time "piece of crap" dealer who provided them methamphetamine and other drugs, he said.
Perez said the motive for the burglary was to steal some electronics and sell them for cash to buy drugs.
Perez said he lied about Autumn Cole being at the crime scene because he believed she was cheating on him and sleeping with Cardenas-Sanchez.
Perez also told the Review-Journal that Cardenas-Sanchez was the one who killed Katherine Cole, by beating, stabbing or choking her.
But prosecutors think it was Perez and Cole who were in the home and killed the woman, while Cardenas-Sanchez provided transportation, a van, to and from the crime scene, according to the indictment.
An arraignment hearing was set for Sept. 8 before District Judge Valerie Adair.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.