CARSON CITY — A former Republican Party treasurer convicted of murder in the death of two family members in a murder for hire case had his conviction reversed Thursday by the Nevada Supreme Court.
The court said a Las Vegas judge erred by not separating the trial of John Chartier from that of his codefendant, David Lee Wilcox.
Chartier will get a new trial.
He was sentenced to four life sentences for his conviction in the 2004 deaths of his ex-wife and her father.
Wilcox, said at trial to be the actual perpetrator, also was convicted in the August 2004 stabbing deaths of Rachel Bernat, 43, and her father, Carlos Aragon, 65.
Attorney JoNell Thomas argued for a new trial for Chartier in January, telling the court the defenses presented by the two men at their 2006 trial were “mutually antagonistic” and that their cases should have been prosecuted separately.
Chartier had denied any involvement in the slayings.
He wanted to introduce conversations between himself and Wilcox that were recorded by police. Those conversations included statements by Wilcox that potentially linked him to the crime.
Clark County District Judge Stewart Bell did not let Chartier introduce the conversations, in part because the information would have prejudiced Wilcox, the Supreme Court said.
Chartier’s motive as put forth by prosecutors was a custody dispute. Bernat was planning to move to New Mexico with the couple’s preschool-age son, Ezekial.
Both men were convicted of first degree murder, and both received life sentences from a jury. They have been serving their sentences at Ely State Prison.