Testimony wrapped up Tuesday afternoon in the death penalty trial of a 41-year-old Las Vegas man accused of killing a 15-year-old girl and injuring another man during a shooting and drug-related robbery.
Prosecutors alleged that Norman Belcher shot Alexus Postorino four times, including twice in the chest, because of a dispute he had with the girl’s father over $450. In early December 2010, the gunman stole a 60-inch television, a safe and a laptop computer from the Postorino home before driving off in a white, four-door 2009 Nissan Versa and later setting the car on fire, authorities have said.
On Monday, Richard Franky, a private investigator hired by defense attorneys, showed jurors a video of Belcher and another man trying to squeeze the same size television into the back of the vehicle. Both back doors would not close with the TV inside.
But through cross-examination, prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci tried to dismiss the re-enactment, saying the results “lined up perfectly” with an eyewitness account. After the shooting, a neighbor in the 9700 block of Villa Lorena Avenue reported seeing the vehicle drive off with a door still open.
But defense attorney Gary Modafferi pointed out that other items were stuffed in the car during the robbery, and Franky testified that meant the television would not fit.
In the days before Alexus was killed, Belcher sent threatening text messages to the girl’s father.
Belcher thought William Postorino owed him the money for forged drug prescriptions.
“I’m actually hoping that you don’t pay me, because I then feel like I’m following protocol,” Belcher wrote in one message. “So $450 or war. An element of surprise.”
Belcher faces seven felony charges, including one count of murder with a deadly weapon and two counts of armed robbery.
Defense attorneys have suggested throughout the trial that Postorino’s involvement in illicit drugs meant that anyone could have been out to rob him.
A few months before the killing, Belcher had been released from prison, where he had been sent for a voluntary manslaughter conviction in a 2003 homicide case.
Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday morning. If Belcher is convicted, the trial would move to a penalty phase, during which he faces a possible death penalty.
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