Two guilty in tourist’s slaying

Two men on trial for killing an elderly California tourist in 2007 were found guilty of murder Thursday.

A Clark County jury convicted Adrian McKnight, 21, and Michael Smith, 25, of murdering Angel Nieva during a robbery at a time-share where the victim and his wife were staying.

Nieva’s wife, Lydia, 65, was also beaten during the robbery. Nieva, 62, and his wife are from Southern California.

"It was a just verdict," said Deputy District Attorney Shelly Small.

The jury convicted McKnight and Smith of multiple felonies, including robbery of a victim over 65 and battery.

Jurors deliberated for about eight hours before coming back with the guilty verdicts.

McKnight and Smith remained silent while the verdicts were read.

A judge will sentence the pair on July 30.

McKnight’s attorney, Cynthia Dustin, said she expects to file an appeal after her client is sentenced.

She said McKnight confessed to police that he helped rob Lydia Nieva but denied killing Angel Nieva.

"The police wouldn’t have figured out who did what without talking to my client," she said.

A third man, 18-year-old Ronnie Gibson, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery before the trial started.

Gibson, who was 16 at the time of the killing, testified during the trial against McKnight and Smith.

On the night of the slaying, the Nievas had driven from a local casino to the Tahiti Vacation Club on Tropicana Avenue near Decatur Boulevard. The couple was staying at the time-share.

After parking their car, they were attacked and robbed by the defendants, authorities said.

Although McKnight and Gibson admitted to taking part in the robbery, Smith had maintained his innocence throughout, said Jonathan MacArthur, one of his attorneys.

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

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