Prosecutors offered to withdraw the death penalty and agree to a sentence of 32 years to life in prison for Benjamin Frazier, who is accused of killing a man at the former Drai’s nightclub and shooting two security guards.
Instead, Frazier told a judge Wednesday that he wants to fire the defense attorneys who negotiated the deal.
In a short, somewhat disjointed speech, Frazier told District Judge Douglas Herndon that he did not trust Randall Pike and Jeremy Storms, with the Clark County special public defender’s office. The 45-year-old defendant, who is being held without bail, suggested his lawyers had done nothing for him, and he complained about access to writing utensils and lack of medical attention from doctors outside the Clark County Detention Center. He said he had suffered seizures and injured his head in his cell.
“I’ve been lied to, and I’ve been manipulated numerous times,” Frazier said. “I wasn’t even in a condition to work on my case, and I believe they didn’t give a damn. This has been hell. This has been hell.”
Pike, who worked directly with the county’s top prosecutor, Steve Wolfson, on hammering out a deal in which Frazier could plead guilty but mentally ill through what’s known as the Alford plea. That means he would not admit guilt but would acknowledge that prosecutors have enough evidence to prove the charges against him.
Video surveillance from Oct. 21, 2013, inside Bally’s, where the club was located, shows Frazier repeatedly firing a .38-caliber revolver, wounding two men and fatally shooting 40-year-old Kenneth Brown, who police said was a “Good Samaritan” and tried to subdue Frazier.
A quarrel started after Frazier asked club security whether he could preview the crowd before paying an entrance fee, authorities said. He decided to pay the cover and walked inside but left soon after, demanding a refund because the club wasn’t full.
The defense attorneys had hired a neuropsychiatrist, two counselors and another doctor to generate documents for the plea, Pike said. The attorneys retained and consulted with other experts, coordinated with mitigation specialists for a possible penalty and worked with investigators, he said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Giancarlo Pesci said the offer would remain open “for the sake of these attorneys” until Frazier’s next court appearance in September.
“I really want to vent my spleen because they’re going out of their way for him, so this concept that somehow they’re falling down is rather repugnant to me,” the prosecutor said. “At some point, it has to end.”
The judge rejected Frazier’s request and set a trial date for April, should he decline the offer.
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Negotiation in Drai’s shooting
Prosecutors for the first time Wednesday made public the details of an offer extended to Benjamin Frazier, who is accused of fatally shooting a man and injuring two others at the former Drai’s nightclub. Frazier would plead guilty to first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder and be sentenced to 32 years to life in prison, according to the deal.
District Judge Douglas Herndon refused to kick Frazier’s attorneys off the case at his request.
“There is always going to be a rub between what you think needs to be done, and what they have the wisdom to know needs to be done,” the judge said. “And there comes a time where if they feel like a case has a certain value to it, they’ve got an obligation to try and secure for you the best resolution they can.”