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Las Vegas judge stands by dismissal of murder charge

A judge on Monday rejected a request from prosecutors to reconsider her decision to dismiss a murder charge against a 62-year-old Las Vegas man after ruling that his constitutional rights were violated.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo wrote in court papers late last week that Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson “appears to have relied upon a misapprehension of the law” in relation to Terry Fulton’s constitutional rights.

DiGiacomo told Tobiasson on Monday that she was “unaware of certain facts” when she made her Oct. 13 ruling. But the judge promptly denied the prosecutor’s argument, saying he must appeal to the District Court.

DiGiacomo had asked for a hearing in which Metro homicide detective Tod Williams would testify about his roughly two-hour interrogation of Fulton at the Clark County Detention Center.

“Detective Williams did not violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel,” the prosecutor wrote.

The judge called that “inappropriate,” and said “the violations in this case were so egregious that the only appropriate remedy was to dismiss the charges.”

Fulton, who was accused in the 2015 death of his 79-year-old mother, 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 he was questioned by the detective.

Fulton’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Julia Murray, said he had been represented by a lawyer for several months before the interrogation.

Prosecutors had argued that Fulton’s constitutional rights had not been violated because he voluntarily spoke with the detective rather than asking for his attorney.

After Monday’s hearing, DiGiacomo said: “We believe Mr. Fulton was treated appropriately. The justice of the peace disagreed with us. We’ll address it in the appropriate forum.”

Fulton, now 62, was first charged with battery on July 12, 2015, after his mother, Rita Schneider, was hospitalized. Police said she had been pushed during a quarrel with Fulton at her east-central valley home a day earlier. Schneider had been diagnosed with breast cancer four months prior, and doctors discovered signs of cancer on her liver and spine.

Fulton remains jailed but could be freed later this week when he is scheduled to appear before a different judge on an unrelated charge of driving under the influence.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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