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Judge releases man in Las Vegas attempted murder case

A judge ordered the release of a Las Vegas man Friday after the Nevada Supreme Court rejected a petition from prosecutors to stop the judge from throwing out attempted murder and battery charges at the start of a trial.

District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez dismissed attempted murder and battery charges against Rigdell Farmer late last month after prosecutors asked to briefly delay his trial. Chief Deputy District Attorney Jake Villani told the judge that he needed additional time to call witnesses in the case.

Instead, the judge dismissed the charges but kept Farmer in custody, while allowing prosecutors to seek an opinion from the high court. In a Thursday order, a three-judge panel denied a request from prosecutors to override Gonzalez’s decision.

Farmer, 29, had been held on $500,000 bail in the attempted murder case before it was dropped.

As of Friday afternoon, Farmer still was jailed on $10,000 bail on charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a short-barreled rifle.

Deputy Public Defender Steven Lisk said Farmer was working to post bail in that case.

“The state is just trying to do an end-around for what happened in the Supreme Court,” Lisk said after Villani asked Gonzalez to reconsider her dismissal.

Prosecutors have argued that Gonzalez abused her discretion in dismissing the case, and still plan to take further steps to appeal the decision, which Villani called “a priority.”

The dismissal stemmed from the start of Farmer’s trial. After jurors heard opening statements on Feb. 25, Villani told the judge that the shooting victim, whom he expected to testify first, was a homeless heroin addict named Dennis Avansdergregoriam, and he was running late. Two other witnesses, expected to testify through a video conference, also were unavailable at the start of the trial, the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors alleged that Farmer shot the victim in the chest and leg during a drug deal gone awry near the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard in August. Deputy public defenders Lisk and Kara Simmons argued that Farmer was acting in self-defense and that Avansdergregoriam, a would-be robber, was shot during a struggle over a gun.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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