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Byford v. Nevada

Supreme Court of Nevada
116 Nev. 215 (2000)


Facts

Robert Byford, Christopher Williams, and Todd Smith (defendants) were at Smith’s parents’ home when they received a call from their acquaintance, Monica Wilkins. Byford was 20 years old, Williams was 17, Smith was 19, and Wilkins was 18. Wilkins asked for a ride home from a local casino. Smith and Williams picked up Wilkins and her friend, and Smith asked for gas money. Wilkins asked to stop at a Burger King to get some money. Wilkins and her friend then said that they had obtained another ride home. Smith and Williams were upset, and, after driving off, Williams fired a handgun out of the window of the car. Wilkins had angered the defendants before when she invited them to a party but left with other men. Byford and Williams had talked about getting rid of her. Later the same night, Wilkins called the defendants again, asking for a ride home. Byford, Williams, and Smith picked up Wilkins and drove to the desert where a party was supposed to be taking place. When they arrived, there was no party, but they stopped so everyone could urinate. Then, Byford handed Williams a handgun and said he couldn’t do it. Williams shot Wilkins three to five times in the back. Wilkins got up, and Williams shot her several more times. Wilkins screamed, and Byford took the gun. Byford stated he would make sure the bitch is dead and shot her twice in the head. Byford then poured gasoline on Wilkins and tried to get Smith to light the fire. Smith refused, and Byford lit the body. The defendants were charged with murder. Smith pleaded guilty to accessory to murder and testified against Byford and Williams. The trial court instructed the jury on premeditation and stated that, if premeditation was found, then the killing was willful, deliberate, and premeditated. Byford and Williams were convicted of first-degree murder, and Byford was sentenced to death. Byford appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shearing, J.)

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