Charges were dropped less than a week after a man was arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 38-year-old after prosecutors determined he acted in self-defense.
Police responded to a call center in the central Las Vegas Valley the evening of Dec. 5 to find two people suffering from stab wounds. A female witness told officers it was a case of an argument turned violent, and that a man who had threatened her stabbed her cousin.
But defense attorney Michael Gowdey, who represents 32-year-old Sheyland Barnett, said Thursday that the woman’s statements turned out to be a lie.
Two people were stabbed in a confrontation involving Barnett. The 38-year-old victim, Galean Simon, died at University Medical Center from multiple stab wounds; his wife was hospitalized with nonlife-threatening injuries.
Barnett was arrested the night of Dec. 5 and charged with murder with a deadly weapon and battery with a deadly weapon. But on Monday, prosecutors dropped all charges in the case, and it was ruled Barnett acted in self-defense after Simon’s female cousin had threatened Barnett, Gowdey said.
“I give the detectives all the credit in the world because they recognized there were issues,” Gowdey said.
After appearing in court Monday, Barnett was to be released from the Clark County Detention Center on Thursday, court records show.
Detectives initially believed that Barnett and Simon’s cousin were in an earlier fight in which Barnett physically threatened the woman, Metropolitan Police Department homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said on the night of the stabbing. The woman asked Simon to come to her work Dec. 5 because she was afraid Barnett would appear, and when he did, the two men got into a fight that resulted in the stabbings, Spencer said.
Spencer said on Dec. 5 that the initial investigation did not show signs of self-defense.
Gowdey said his client had a different story, which Barnett told police when he called them to report the fight after walking into Henderson Hospital with minor injuries. According to Gowdey, Barnett’s interaction with the woman the day before the stabbing involved his girlfriend’s relationship with the woman.
On Dec. 5, Barnett went to pick up his girlfriend and found her co-worker with Simon, Simon’s wife and two others waiting for him, Gowdey said.
The group pounded on the windows and doors of his car, which Barnett was driving with his two children inside. He didn’t want to leave his girlfriend there, and he feared for his children, so he grabbed a utility knife in the car to confront them, Gowdey said.
Gowdey said the two other people with Simon and his wife were related to them. Police found fingerprints and boot prints on the outside of Barnett’s car, he said.
After recovering the deleted emails between Barnett’s girlfriend and her co-worker that discussed the woman’s interaction with Barnett, Gowdey said, prosecutors dropped all charges.
“That was the missing piece,” he said. “That showed (the woman) was lying about her state of mind the night before. She wasn’t afraid of him; she was angry.”
Gowdey said detectives and prosecutors doubted “inconsistencies” in the woman’s statements since the stabbing. He said police are looking into possible charges for the woman.
Metro did not identify the woman because of the ongoing investigation.
“This goes to show that people shouldn’t prejudge cases before they hear the evidence,” Gowdey said. “They made my client out to be a monster. Nothing could have been further from the truth.”