October 20, 2016 - 10:12 pm
A Las Vegas man facing the death penalty in the slaying of a 75-year-old woman should not be allowed to cover his neo-Nazi tattoos with makeup when he goes to trial, a judge ruled Thursday.
A swastika within a clover is permanently etched under Bayzle Morgan’s left eye. The words “Most Wanted” are scrawled across his forehead, and “Baby Nazi” is tattooed on the 25-year-old’s neck, and two more white supremacist tattoos are located where his eyebrows should be.
Morgan gained international media attention earlier this year after a different judge ordered the tattoos covered during a separate robbery trial.
He is facing a second trial in the slaying of 75-year-old Jean Main, which occurred just days before the robbery. That trial, once scheduled to start on Halloween, has been postponed.
“I’m just not convinced you tried hard enough to pick a jury,” said District Judge Michelle Leavitt, who is overseeing the murder case. “They could be impacted; they just have to be fair and impartial, regardless of the fact that they don’t like the tattoos or they impact them in a negative way. They should be able to set it aside. And it’s just outrageous if a juror can’t do that.”
Prosecutors said that in May 2013 Morgan broke into Main’s home in the 8000 block of Green Pasture Avenue, while she was alone, pistol-whipped her over the head so hard that the trigger guard broke into pieces, and then shot her in the back of the head. Her boyfriend found her face down in a first-floor bathroom.
A getaway driver, identified as Keith Smith, now 49, left when he heard gunshots but returned and saw Morgan with a suitcase of items from the victim’s house. Smith was sentenced this month to four to 10 years in prison on burglary charges.
Police recovered a laptop, a Kindle Fire, a purse with $800 and keys to a Cadillac Escalade at Morgan’s residence when he was arrested.
Defense lawyer Dayvid Figler called the makeup “a unique solution” and “a viable alternative” and pointed to “weeping,” “nervous,” “frightened” and “angry” potential jurors who said they could not have decided the robbery case with fairness after seeing his tattoos.
At age 18 in 2010, Morgan was ordered to serve 19 to 48 months behind bars on a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle. In a mugshot from High Desert State Prison at the time, there are no visible tattoos on his face. Figler said the markings were prison-made.
“The tattoos have nothing to do with this (murder) case,” Figler said. “However there is the potential that they could prejudice him, due to no fault of his own, because of the nature and circumstances of how those tattoos came onto his face in the first place.”
In August, with his tattoos covered by makeup, Morgan was convicted of robbery. Jurors were unaware Morgan’s tattoos had been concealed, and some told the Review-Journal that seeing the markings would not have changed their verdict.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Giancarlo Pesci said none of the evidence in the murder case relates to Morgan’s tattoos. In the robbery trial, “we just didn’t have the right approach in getting a jury,” the prosecutor said.
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