Lawyers ready for trial in Sparks trespasser killing case

RENO — Lawyers on both sides of a case that has brought attention to Nevada’s stand-your-ground law told a judge Wednesday they are ready for a January trial for a man charged with murder in the shooting of an unarmed trespasser.

Wayne Burgarello, 73, of Sparks acknowledged that he fatally shot a man and seriously injured a woman at a vacant home he owns in Sparks in February. He claims he feared for his life and was acting in self-defense when he found them in the darkened, rundown duplex.

“Everything our investigation has uncovered shows Wayne acted in justified self-defense in his own home,” his lawyer Theresa Ristenpart told reporters after the status hearing before Washoe District Judge Patrick Flanagan.

Clean-shaven and wearing a tie, Burgarello looked like a different man when he appeared before the judge for the first time since he was released on bail in September.

In his previous appearances, the former school teacher’s gray hair was disheveled and he appeared confused at times in jail garb and shackles as he tried to explain the pain he was suffering from multiple health problems that jail doctors couldn’t treat.

He had been in jail since May, when he was charged in the killing of Cody Devine, 34, and attempted murder of Janai Wilson, 29.

Burgarello is doing much better now that he’s receiving care from his own doctors, Ristenpart told reporters. “He’s always been able to assist in his defense.”

Flanagan agreed in August to lower Burgarello’s bail from $2 million to $150,000, citing his medical situation and minimal flight risk.

Ristenpart said she might challenge some of the prosecution’s expert witnesses but doesn’t think a trial delay is necessary. Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Bruce Hahn agreed.

Burgarello has said he grabbed two handguns on Feb. 13 after a neighbor telephoned him about suspicious activity at the duplex that had been burglarized before and was sometimes inhabited by squatters using drugs. He said he found garbage, syringes and drug paraphernalia when he entered the darkened home, calling out several times that he was the homeowner and was armed.

When Burgarello entered a back bedroom, Devine’s “arm came up like a gun” and the defendant opened fire, Ristenpart said in court papers.

Detectives say Burgarello shot Devine five times, once in the head. Hahn said evidence involving the wounds will counter the self-defense claim.

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