CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a man sentenced to multiple life sentences for a double murder sought by his friend, a former Clark County Republican Party treasurer.
The high court ruled against David Lee Wilcox, who got four consecutive life sentences for the August 2004 stabbing deaths of Rachel Bernat and her father, Carlos Aragon. Bernat’s husband, John Chartier, got a similar sentence for requesting the killings.
Prosecutors said Chartier enlisted Wilcox for the slayings during a bitter custody dispute. Bernat died just days before she planned to move to New Mexico with the couple’s young son.
On appeal, Wilcox said the evidence against him was insufficient to support a finding of guilt. But justices said Tuesday that an eyewitness gave a description that matched Wilcox, and DNA testing showed drops of blood in front of the victim’s home matched Wilcox.
The high court also said jurors heard testimony that Wilcox and Chartier made incriminating statements in phone calls recorded after the murders, and a note from Chartier, admitted at trial, instructed Wilcox to “take out” the victims.
Also rejected was an appeal from Giles Manley, who at age 16 went on a Southern Nevada crime spree in 2002 that left two men dead and netted him multiple life sentences in prison.
Manley contended that he pleaded guilty in March 2003 to the crimes because he faced a possible death sentence and an attorney told him that he could withdraw his plea should the execution of juvenile offenders be deemed unconstitutional.
Manley pleaded guilty to 12 felony counts, including two counts of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon for the deaths of Isaac Perez, 21, and Patrick Melia, 41. The other counts included kidnapping, robbery, attempted murder and possession of stolen property.
Manley forced Perez to drive him away from an elementary school where Perez, a college student, worked as a custodian. When Perez deliberately drove into a Highway Patrol car stopped on U.S. Highway 95 in Las Vegas, Manley killed him and then shot Trooper Guy Davis in the foot, police said.
Manley then carjacked a sport utility vehicle and led police on a high-speed chase that ended when he crashed into another vehicle, killing Melia.