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Las Vegas jurors weigh death penalty for 2013 slaying

Updated January 31, 2019 - 11:54 pm

Long before Emilio Arenas tortured and killed a man in an east Las Vegas apartment, he inflicted violence, humiliation and degradation upon those he encountered, prosecutors said Thursday.

Arenas was convicted last week of first-degree murder and other charges, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. One of Arenas’ co-defendants, Peyton Hemingway, 42, was found guilty of second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing.

Arenas’ crimes date to 1994, when he attacked an 83-year-old man with a machete, Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Hamner said in closing arguments. Years later, Arenas threatened to kill police officers, and punched and spit on a pregnant woman before torturing and killing 50-year-old Carl Simon in 2013.

“These are the choices he makes,” Hamner said.

Defense attorneys asked a jury of 10 women and two men to spare Arenas’ life.

The words “Death is never mandatory” appeared on a monitor over the jury box as his lawyer, Charles Cano, led jurors even further back into Arenas’ life. He was sexually abused as a child, endured racism, suffered from a head injury, and he became addicted to alcohol and drugs in his youth, Cano said.

“That’s mitigation. That’s a reason to choose life,” Cano said. “You know what cases are the worst of the worst. And this case isn’t one of them.”

Jurors are expected to resume deliberating Arenas’ fate Friday morning. He faces sentences of 20 to 50 years, 20 years to life, life in prison without parole or capital punishment.

Prosecutors said the slaying of Simon took hours. He was punched, kicked, whipped, stabbed with scissors, bound with electrical tape, stuffed in a suitcase and submerged under water as Arenas sang along to the Ozzy Osbourne song “Crazy Train.”

Arenas and Hemingway attacked Simon in a room after they accused Simon of stealing money intended for drugs, prosecutors said.

Simon’s remains were found in a dumpster 6 miles from the Budget Suites, 4855 Boulder Highway, near Flamingo Road, where he was killed.

“Arenas inflicted this cruel pain for sadistic reasons,” Hamner said. “He was not troubled or pained by this. He reveled in it.”

Theresa Allen, who was with the men at the time of the killing, testified against Arenas and Hemingway during their trial. She has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing.

Arenas told jurors he was sorry for the killing and asked them to allow him a continued relationship with his family. Another one of his lawyers told jurors that he should not die for his conviction.

“Prison is enough,” said defense attorney Randall Pike. “That’s punishment enough.”

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

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