A Nevada prison inmate serving time for a battery conviction had just four months left in his sentence when he was shot dead in November by a guard.
By March 14, according to the Nevada parole board, 28-year-old Carlos Manuel Perez Jr.’s debt to society would have been paid. But instead of leaving High Desert State Prison a free man, he left a dead man.
The violent nature of Perez’s Nov. 12 death was revealed only Wednesday, by the Clark County coroner. A Nov. 14 state Department of Corrections news release acknowledged the death and said an investigation would follow. But nothing was said about a shooting.
A High Desert State Prison guard shot Carlos Perez and Andrew Arevalo, 24, as the two were fighting. A lawyer for Arevalo, who is serving time for robbery, said that both men were handcuffed behind their backs and that her client was shot three times in the face but survived.
The fact that corrections officials kept quiet about the shootings continued to draw criticism Thursday as more was learned about Perez’s troubled life.
His older brother said Carlos Perez was a drug addict and longtime member of the Nevada Trece prison gang, a part of the “Mexican Mafia.”
Carlos Perez was addicted to heroin and was homeless before being put away, said Victor Perez, 30, of Reno. That led to the elder brother adopting his younger sibling’s three children.
At one point, Carlos Perez had four children, Victor Perez said. But his youngest child was born addicted to drugs in 2013 and died in February 2014. The death was a wake-up call, said Victor Perez, and his brother talked about leaving Nevada Trece and changing his life.
“He said, ‘Enough was enough’ and wanted to get sober, to get clean,” Victor Perez told the Review-Journal on Thursday.
Carlos Perez told his older brother he could be killed for leaving the gang, Victor Perez said.
It’s unclear whether Carlos Perez left the gang.
He was arrested in November 2012 after Metro said he smacked a man with a two-by-four “with nails through the end of it,” according to a police report. The victim told police the attack was retaliation for a previous fight.
Victor Perez said the feud started at homeless shelter, where his brother and a woman pregnant with his child were attacked by rival gang members with a vendetta to kill Carlos Perez.
Later, a member of the gang and Carlos Perez ran into each other at a 7-Eleven on the corner of Stewart and Eastern avenues, and the man tried to stab him, Victor Perez said. Their third meeting involved the wooden club, and other man called police and had Carlos arrested, his brother said.
Perez pleaded guilty to a felony battery charge in February 2013 and was sentenced to 18 to 48 months in prison, according to court documents.
Carlos Perez applied for parole and was scheduled for release March 14, the parole board said Thursday.
Clark County court records show Carlos Perez previously had been sentenced to 12 to 36 months in prison for a 2010 domestic battery conviction for choking his then-girlfriend, the mother of his eldest daughter.
When Carlos Perez’s body was released by the prison, it came with a bill for more than $200 for transportation to a mortuary.
Carlos Perez’s ashes now sit in a cardboard box on a TV stand in Victor Perez’s living room. He said that the family cannot afford a burial and that prison authorities interfered with efforts to raise money for a funeral.
Four days after the family started a GoFundMe account to raise $2,000 for funeral costs the site was shut down, he said.
“A GoFundMe representative told me the warden called them directly to shut it down,” Victor Perez said. “The prison claimed an investigation was ongoing and that donation services for Carlos weren’t allowed.
“We knew who Carlos was and what he did — he deserved to be in prison,” he said. “But the way he went out was just wrong.”
Contact Chris Kudialis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283. Find him on Twitter: @kudialisrj.