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Penalty trial ordered in robbery, slaying case

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court has ordered a new penalty hearing for a Las Vegas man sentenced to death for the 1994 killings of an elderly couple in a robbery.

The court on Friday ordered the new penalty hearing for Antoine Williams for the killing of Alice and William Nail.

The court ordered the new hearing after throwing out a number of the aggravating circumstances used by a panel of judges to sentence him to death. The “aggravators,” as they are called by the court system, were thrown out based on a 2004 ruling in another death case involving Robert McConnell.

In that ruling, the court said a prosecutor can’t convict someone of first-degree murder using a particular circumstance, such as the fact that a killing occurred during a robbery, and then use robbery again in the penalty phase of the trial as an aggravating circumstance to win a verdict of death.

In some other death cases brought to the state’s high court since the decision to apply the McConnell ruling retroactively, the court has been able to reweigh the factors in the cases and uphold the death sentences.

But in Williams’ case, the court said it could not conclude he would have been sentenced to death for the killings given the information presented on his behalf.

Williams’ new penalty hearing will be in front of a jury.

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