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Nevada prisoner sentenced to life term for fatally stabbing cellmate

Updated October 13, 2022 - 7:59 pm

A 34-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for stabbing his cellmate 96 times at High Desert State Prison.

Andrew Hilford pleaded guilty in August to first-degree murder for killing 21-year-old Isaiah Sharp on March 14, 2021, with a plastic “shank.” He is already serving a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years for a 2006 fatal shooting and robbery near the Strip.

During Thursday’s hearing, District Judge Tierra Jones ordered Hilford to serve a consecutive sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for Sharp’s murder.

Hilford’s attorney, Keith Brower, and prosecutor Erica Gold declined to comment after the hearing. Hilford did not address the judge before he was sentenced.

Sharp’s grandfather, Nicholas Snider, placed blame on the prison system during a victim-impact statement and said Sharp should not have been placed in a cell with Hilford.

“There is no reason my grandson is not sitting here next to me,” said Snider, who addressed the court through a video call.

Sharp’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Nevada Department of Corrections, alleging the prison system violated Sharp’s rights when officials “carelessly, recklessly, (and) unjustifiably housed him in a cell with a known, violent inmate who had previously threatened harm against anyone placed in his cell.”

Months before attacking Sharp, Hilford told a prison official that he wanted a specific roommate and that he would hurt anyone else who was housed with him, according to the lawsuit, which is being litigated in federal court.

Sharp was less than a month away from being released from the prison when he was killed, the lawsuit said. The Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners had recommended that Sharp be released from prison on March 31, 2021, when his minimum sentence for a 2017 armed robbery was set to expire.

Sharp’s aunt, Nicole Wolfe, said Thursday that Sharp wanted to follow his older brother into the Air Force but “made a terrible choice” after graduating from high school. In what was his only criminal offense, Sharp robbed a convenience store in 2017 with two co-workers while intoxicated in Washoe County, according to his family’s lawsuit.

“My poor nephew was days away from coming home when his life was brutally taken from him,” Wolfe said. “There were even warning signs, but no one took the time to do anything about it.”

After the hearing, Snider said his family is still disappointed in the Department of Corrections. He described Sharp as a happy kid who loved sports, his family, and participating in ROTC while in high school.

“He was a great kid. We had lots of plans,” Snider said.

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

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