Even after a second Las Vegas judge dismissed murder and other charges against a man accused in his mother’s death, prosecutors said they could still pursue the case.
District Judge Douglas Herndon threw out three counts against Terry Fulton on Thursday, finding that prosecutors failed to present evidence to a grand jury that could have proved the 63-year-old man’s innocence.
The ruling came more than a year after Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson threw out charges against Fulton, saying a homicide detective violated his constitutional rights.
“This case is a case that the state can never prove,” Fulton’s lawyer Alzora Jackson said. “It is a wicked waste of resources to continue to prosecute Terry Fulton who has not committed homicide of any type.”
Yet Fulton remains jailed on $20,000 for a pending DUI case, and prosecutors said they are awaiting another District Court judge’s ruling on Tobiasson’s decision to go forward with charges against Fulton in the death of his mother, Rita Schneider, who had suffered from late-stage cancer just before she died.
Tobiasson decided that “egregious” constitutional violations had occurred during a police interrogation with Fulton.
He had been at the jail for less than a week after spending six months at Lake’s Crossing Center in Sparks, the state’s only maximum-security psychiatric facility, when a detective interrogated him at length without a lawyer present.
Prosecutors said Schneider had been pushed in July 2015 during a quarrel at her east-central valley home, injured her back and died several days later. Authorities said Fulton wanted his mother’s pain medications.
Two months after Tobiasson’s decision, prosecutors lodged an indictment against Fulton for murder, abuse of an older, vulnerable person resulting in death and battery resulting in substantial bodily harm constituting domestic violence.
But Herndon found that prosecutors knew of a 911 call in which Schneider said Fulton did not push her, and that was not played for the grand jury that handed up the indictment.
Schneider suffered broken bones in her back. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer four months earlier, and doctors discovered signs of cancer on her liver and spine.
Prosecutors appealed Tobiasson’s decision and await a District Court judge’s ruling.
“The state of Nevada has not yet given up our efforts to seek justice for the victim,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo said. “We will reassess our strategy after the conclusion by the district court on the pending matter.”