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Flowers spared death penalty in 2005 sexual assault, murder

The man who authorities say is a serial killer and rapist was sentenced today to spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

Norman Flowers, 34, was convicted this week of sexually assaulting and killing 18-year-old Sheila "Pooka” Quarles in 2005. He is also accused of killing and raping two other women.

Before he was sentenced, Flowers told the jury that he wanted to be a part of his 4-year-old son’s life so he could help raise him. He also said he was sorry for Quarles’ slaying.

"I’m sincerely sorry for the pain that Pooka’s death has caused her family,” he said, adding, "I apologize for the heartache my family has had to endure.”

Debra Quarles, Quarles’ mother, sat in the courtroom and shook her head when the jury’s decision to spare Flowers’ life was announced. She and several other family members left the courtroom almost immediately after the sentencing.

Debra Quarles had previously said that she felt betrayed by Flowers. She had dated him in 2004 and, after Quarles was killed, Flowers re-entered her life and advised her to get counseling for her grief.

Jurors rejected the death sentence in part because Flowers suffered physical and sexual abuse as a child. They also found that he was raised in a dysfunctional family and was once abandoned by his family in Central America when he was young. And they decided that Flowers was still a loving father to his son.

Jury foreman Todd Pierson said a life sentence also serves the same purpose as executing him.

"This guy’s not going to be in society again,” he said after he and the other jurors delivered the sentence.

However, Pierson said the jury was split at one point: about half wanted to sentence Flowers to death while the other half wanted to give him life without the chance of parole. The side wanting death eventually came around.

He said none of the jurors wanted to sentence Flowers to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years or to a 50-year sentence with the chance of parole after 20 years — the two other options available to them.

Flowers’ attorneys, Assistant Special Public Defender Randy Pike and Deputy Special Public Defender Clark Patrick, both praised the jury for its decision.

"I hope it offers resolution to the family (of Quarles),” Pike said.

Chief Deputy District Attorneys Pam Weckerly and Lisa Luzaich Rego, who prosecuted Flowers during the almost two-week trial, declined to comment at length because Flowers is still facing another murder trial.

"We’re satisfied with the verdict,” Weckerly said.

Flowers is also facing charges that he sexually assaulted and killed 45-year-old Marilee Coote and 24-year-old Rena Gonzales. He is scheduled to be tried for their slayings next year.

Coote and Gonzales were found hours apart in separate apartments at the Silver Pines Apartments on Eastern Avenue near Boulder Highway. Both were strangled and sexually assaulted. Gonzales had a phone cord around her neck.

DNA evidence linked Flowers to Coote but not to Gonzales, Las Vegas police said. He was, however, seen around Gonzales’ apartment the day she was found dead and he admitted to smothering her to jailhouse informants, authorities and court documents stated.

Flowers has an extensive criminal history dating back to at least 1992, when he was 18. He was accused of committing multiple burglaries, an armed robbery and an arson that killed a pet dog.

He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in the early 1990s and served about 10 years of the sentence. He was on parole when he killed and raped Quarles at the apartment she shared with her family on Pecos Road near Washington Avenue, authorities said.

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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