A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty to attempted murder Tuesday in an unusual case involving a hammer attack on a mannequin in downtown Las Vegas.
Shane Schindler is expected to receive a sentence of eight to 20 years behind bars.
His attorney, Ashley Sisolak, said prosecutors agreed not to file charges in three other cases, including two killings, while a charge of carrying a concealed weapon was dropped.
“The negotiations were tough but fair,” Sisolak said. “They were in the best interest of my client. We are happy with the result.”
While trying to develop leads in the killings of two middle-aged homeless men, Las Vegas police staged the dummy to look like a sleeping homeless man tucked in a floral print blanket, wearing black boots and a hooded sweatshirt.
But even after Schindler was jailed on an attempted murder charge, investigators struggled to find evidence strong enough to pursue charges in the slayings.
“The evidence was reasonably compelling that Mr. Schindler was responsible for all of the hammer attacks,” prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said. “This seemed to be a reasonable resolution considering the evidentiary constraints that we had.”
Police surveillance video from Feb. 22 shows Schindler pacing around a downtown street corner in the dark of night for nearly 14 minutes before whacking the head of a mannequin with a hammer.
During an interview with homicide detectives, Schindler said he knew he was not attacking a human being.
“He told us he was walking along in the area; he saw a dummy,” Detective Dan Long told a grand jury, which indicted Schindler. “He knew it was a dummy because it wasn’t breathing and it wasn’t moving, and he thought it was funny, so he kicked it.”
The video does not show Schindler kicking the dummy.
For several months, authorities indicated that Schindler was a suspect in the slayings of Daniel Aldape and David Dunn, middle-aged men who were bludgeoned to death on the sidewalk near the southeast corner of City and Grand Central parkways, where Schindler bashed the dummy.
Aldape’s body was found Jan. 4, while Dunn’s body was discovered about a month later. Authorities have said they believe Schindler was in the area at the time. On Schindler’s phone, police found a selfie taken in November that shows him on his back in the area.
Authorities said another man was attacked in the area and survived.
In Schindler’s motel room, homicide detectives found several Harbor Freight receipts, including one for a hammer returned to the store and exchanged for the 4-pound engineer’s hammer used in the dummy attack. Schindler told the detectives he bought the hammer for $3 off a homeless man.
A team of investigators with the Metropolitan Police Department’s downtown area command spent weeks camped out near the areas where the two men were killed before Schindler approached the decoy.
Contact David Ferrara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.