Prosecutor says witness in Las Vegas murder case was threatened

A week after a body was found in a vacant northeast valley home last year, a witness to the killing was kidnapped, shot in the head with a pellet gun and sexually assaulted, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

“The message that is being inflicted upon her is ‘don’t snitch,’” Chief Deputy District Attorney David Stanton told jurors. “The defendant being present at these events points to one inescapable conclusion: that this defendant is guilty of first-degree murder.”

The witness told police that she saw 32-year-old Kurtis Richards pull a gun on her friend, Daniel Contreras, on the morning of Oct. 23.

When she ran from the house, she heard the three gunshots that killed him, Stanton said in opening statements for Richards’ murder trial.

Paramedics found Contreras’ body at a home on the 5800 block of East Carey Avenue after a woman reported hearing moaning coming from the house.

Contreras, 35, was on his back, was unresponsive and had a gunshot wound to his stomach.

Three 9 mm bullets and three cartridge cases were found at the scene, according to Richards’ arrest report.

The witness who was assaulted told police that she and Contreras went to the house to smoke methamphetamine, the report said.

The witness told police that Richards, known on the streets as “Keys” or “Keith,” knocked on the door. He then went to Contreras, pulled out a gun and told him to hand over “the stuff,” the report said.

Contreras handed over his drugs, the report said. Richards then pointed the gun at the witness and said, “What do you have to give?”

At that point, Contreras looked at her and told her to run.

Contreras then lunged at Richards and started fighting with him, she told police. She heard gunfire as she ran out out the door.

Stanton explained how a week later, the witness to the crime — whom the Review-Journal is not identifying because she is a victim of sexual assault — was held captive and beaten for hours by multiple people.

She was shot three times in the back of the head with a pellet gun, once on the back of her right shoulder and another time on her inner left thigh, according to another arrest report.

She was also handcuffed and forced to perform a sex act on one of the men, the report said, and the group threatened to kill her if she told police “about anything.”

Richards’ defense attorney, Roy Nelson, begged jurors to “please keep an open mind.”

“Mr. Stanton didn’t talk to you about forensic evidence, because there wasn’t any,” Nelson said. “There was nothing that tied Kurtis to the scene.”

The trial is set to continue Thursday.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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