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Man sentenced to life in prison for killing 14-year-old son

Updated November 16, 2022 - 2:04 pm

Veronica Melton said she has been living a nightmare for five years, since her ex-husband shot and killed their 14-year-old son.

“This monster should be made an example of, and I ask that you send a message to Nevada that we don’t go around shooting our children and get away with it,” the woman said Wednesday during a sentencing hearing for her ex-husband, 58-year-old Wendell Melton.

In May, a jury found Wendell Melton guilty of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon; child abuse, neglect or endangerment with a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm; and child abuse, neglect or endangerment in the death of his son, Giovanni Melton.

The boy was shot on Nov. 2, 2017, in the Henderson apartment where he lived alone.

District Judge Michelle Leavitt sentenced Wendell Melton on Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 28 years. He also was ordered to pay $16,495 in restitution.

Prosecutors have said Wendell Melton took a gun with him to confront Giovanni and intentionally shot him during a struggle after learning that the boy had not gone to school that day.

During the trial, defense attorneys argued that the firearm accidentally went off during the confrontation and that Wendell Melton brought the gun because he was afraid of his son, who had a history of getting into fights with caregivers.

Giovanni and his brother were sent to live with his father, but defense attorneys have said Wendell Melton didn’t have room for them in his house with his wife and daughter. Giovanni bounced between living with friends, relatives and his boyfriend before his father rented an apartment for Giovanni and his older brother.

By November 2017, Giovanni was living alone after a fight with his brother, defense attorneys have said.

During the sentencing hearing, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacob Villani emphasized that Wendell Melton should not have had a firearm that day.

“Without that firearm, even by the defense’s own admission, everybody walks out of that room alive,” the prosecutor said.

At the time of the shooting, Wendell Melton was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a prior domestic battery conviction. While investigating Giovanni’s death, police found a gun safe full of firearms at his father’s home, Villani said Wednesday.

Veronica Melton has alleged that her ex-husband killed Giovanni because he was gay, but that motive was not argued by prosecutors during the trial.

On Wednesday, Wendell Melton told the judge that he did not have any animosity toward his son because of the teen’s sexual orientation.

“Giovanni was my son, and I loved him very much,” Wendell Melton said, speaking quietly to the judge.

The defendant filed a notice of appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court in June regarding the conviction, but the higher court ruled that further documents in the case could not be filed until he was sentenced.

Joseph Reiff, Wendell Melton’s attorney, said Wednesday that the defendant has multiple supportive family members and that the judge should use discretion when sentencing him.

Reiff did not represent the man at trial.

After the hearing, Veronica Melton said she was satisfied that her ex-husband will not be eligible for parole for nearly three decades.

“It doesn’t bring back my son, but it makes me feel that there is some sort of justice,” she said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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