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Man who shot, killed neighbor wanted to ‘make a statement’

Moments before James Stapleton shot and killed his neighbor, he sent text messages to his ex-girlfriend saying he was “trying to make a statement.”

After hearing that testimony and watching a video of Stapleton fire four shots into Giancarlo John Banova’s white pickup truck, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Diana Sullivan decided Monday that prosecutors had enough evidence to take the murder case to trial.

Giancarlo John Banova, 60, was shot on May 7 after a long quarrel between neighbors escalated to a gunfight in the 5800 block of Westport Circle, near Gowan Road and Jones Boulevard, according to police. He died a week later.

Prosecutor John Giordani said Stapleton had waited for Banova to step out of his home.

Stapleton’s former girlfriend, Ticia Ledwon, testified that Stapleton had an “ongoing dispute” with his neighbor, but did not say what it was about.

“I think I’m going to put an end to my problem with my neighbor,” Stapleton told Ledwon in a text message the morning of the shooting. “He’s done.”

Ledwon tried to stop him, warning him of the possibility of years in prison. She said she didn’t call police because Stapleton had made veiled threats in the past.

“I have the bullets, there won’t be any mistakes,” he told her. “I’m waiting for him and not hiding it, so when the cops ask, don’t lie.”

Banova was backing his white Dodge pickup out of his driveway, police said, while arguing with Stapleton.

Stapleton and his parents were outside their house when the quarrel started, police said.

As Banova rolled back in his truck, Stapleton pulled a “long rifle” from the passenger seat of his truck and walked toward Banova’s driveway, according to police.

Video from Banova’s surveillance system showed he had backed out of his driveway then pulled back in as Stapleton approached. Stapleton raised the shotgun and pointed it at Banova’s truck.

Defense lawyer Nancy Lemcke said Banova fired first, shooting from a handgun out his driver’s side window at Stapleton, according to police. Stapleton then returned fire.

That video, which did not capture sound, was played in court Monday and showed Stapleton walk up to Banova’s truck, point his weapon at the driver’s side and fire four shots. Stapleton stepped back briefly, then walked toward the truck again, aimed his weapon, but did not fire.

A neighbor told police she heard Staple­ton’s father yelling for him to calm down.

Banova was pronounced dead May 14 at University Medical Center, according to the coroner’s office.

Stapleton was treated and released for wounds that were not life-threatening, police said.

Contact reporter David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker

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