20 September 2021 :
Samuel Howard, on death row for 38 years, ruled ineligible for execution.
Howard, now 73, Black, was given the death penalty in May 1983 after he was convicted of robbing Las Vegas dentist George Monahan of $2 and fatally shooting him in the head in March 1980. In a unanimous decision handed down Thursday, the State Supreme Court found that a New York court had recently vacated Howard’s previous lone felony conviction. The death penalty can be imposed in Nevada only when at least 1 of more than a dozen aggravating circumstances, such as a prior felony conviction for murder or the use or threat of violence, are found. A jury then weighs the aggravating circumstances and those in the defendant’s favor, called mitigating circumstances, to determine whether capital punishment is warranted. “Given that the statute clearly requires a conviction, we cannot salvage the aggravating circumstance based on the other evidence the State presented at the penalty hearing” for Howard, Herndon wrote. “Because the only aggravating circumstance supporting Howard’s death sentence is no longer valid, he is ineligible for the death penalty.” Nevada’s last execution more than 15 years ago, when Daryl Mack was executed in 2006 for the rape and murder of a Reno woman, Betty Jane May, in 1988.