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Titus fanatic sentenced in murder plot

The man who hatched a murder-for-hire plot tied to bodybuilders Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan was sentenced Tuesday to eight to 25 years in prison by District Judge Douglas Herndon.

Ronald Nelson Brady Jr., 36, was convicted in February of three counts of solicitation to commit murder. Authorities said Brady tried to hire a hit man to kill key witnesses against Titus and Ryan in a murder case.

In May, Titus and Ryan pleaded guilty to various charges in connection with the slaying of their personal assistant Melissa James, whose charred body was found in a torched Jaguar in the desert in 2005.

Brady, who maintained his innocence throughout the trial, told Herndon on Tuesday that he never tried to hire anyone to kill witnesses in Titus and Ryan’s case.

“I can look you in the eye and tell you this was never a murder-for-hire plot,” Brady said. “I’d rather be in the position I’m in now, and even do life in prison, than be involved in bringing harm (to), much less killing, anyone.”

But Herndon said there was overwhelming evidence showing that Brady wanted three witnesses in Titus’ case dead. Although Brady’s attorney asked for a shorter prison term, Herndon said that Brady’s prior criminal record, along with the fact that he wanted to kill witnesses in a murder case, meant Brady deserved a stiff prison sentence.

Giving him leniency would be a “slap in the face to people who have been willing to come and testify in a murder case,” Herndon said.

Brady met Titus while they were incarcerated at the county jail. Authorities described Brady as an awestruck fan who worshiped the former professional bodybuilder. During Brady’s trial, an ex-girlfriend said Brady’s obsession with Titus was “bizarre.”

Defense attorney Michael Schwarz said Brady was merely a pawn used by authorities to build a stronger case against Titus. “All they wanted was something on Craig Titus,” Schwarz said.

Titus, 43, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and arson for the killing of James, 28. Ryan, 36, pleaded guilty to arson and battery with a deadly weapon with substantial bodily harm. Both are scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

Authorities never charged Titus in the murder-for-hire plot. Prosecutor Josh Tomsheck said Titus wasn’t charged because there wasn’t evidence that he was involved.

During Brady’s trial, informant Deem Cassim testified that Brady approached him inside the Clark County Detention Center about carrying out the hits. Cassim said that he had multiple conversations with Brady about the plot and eventually arranged for Brady to meet with an undercover cop posing as Cassim’s girlfriend. The undercover cop was supposed to accept payment for the hit.

Cassim was jailed for the 2004 robbery of World Series of Poker champion Greg “Fossilman” Raymer in Las Vegas. Cassim was sentenced to 31/2 years to 12 years behind bars but was given probation after helping authorities in Brady’s case.

Brady’s father, Ronald Nelson Brady Sr., said Tuesday that his son will appeal the case to the Nevada Supreme Court. He said Brady never wanted to kill the witnesses but did try to discredit them.

He said he wasn’t surprised with the sentence because his son was fighting against an allegedly rigged system. “I am extremely proud of my son,” he said. “This man did not compromise the truth.”

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

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