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Judge says prosecutors can return to grand jury in prison killing

Prosecutors should return to a grand jury with details about a fatal stabbing at High Desert State Prison if one of the alleged killers decides to tell his side of the story, a judge ruled Thursday.

While throwing out a racketeering charge against Tarik “Torque” Goicoechea, 34, Senior District Judge Nancy Becker said she found no evidence of a conspiracy in the February 2016 slaying of 26-year-old Andrew Thurgood.

Both Goicoechea and Anthony Williams were indicted on racketeering and murder charges last year in a stabbing prosecutors had tied to a violent white supremacist prison gang in Nevada.

“I don’t see a scintilla of evidence that this is a gang situation either at this time,” Becker said.

Earlier this month, District Judge Michelle Leavitt initially dismissed an entire indictment against Goicoechea after his attorneys, Dayvid Figler and Kristina Wildeveld, had argued that prosecutors did not properly serve him notice of an indictment in which he could have the opportunity to present evidence to prove his innocence to a grand jury.

But the judge pulled back on that decision after prosecutors argued that they should be able to offer him a chance to testify.

After Thursday’s decision from Becker, who was sitting in for Leavitt, Figler said that he expected Goicoechea to “exert his right” to testify and force prosecutors to present to a grand jury any evidence that could point to his innocence.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, all grand jury proceedings have been suspended indefinitely, and it’s unclear when jurors could meet again in Goicoechea’s case.

Meantime, Figler said, he would “aggressively” push to have Goicoechea released from custody.

Prosecutors have said they planned to seek capital punishment for both Goicoechea and Williams, who is still awaiting trial.

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

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