Nevada high court urged to overturn death sentence

By BRENDAN RILEY
ASSOCIATED PRESS

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The state Supreme Court was urged Tuesday to overturn the death sentence ordered for Alfonso "Slinky" Blake, an aspiring R&B artist convicted of killing two women and shooting a third in the southern Nevada desert.

Robert Miller, deputy Clark County public defender, told the high court that the trial judge in Blake's case erred in letting jurors hear remarks about prior bad acts that hurt his temporary insanity defense.

An expert witness for the defense testified that Blake suffered a brief psychotic disorder and then the prosecutor sought to undermine the testimony by bringing up several previous violent incidents in which Blake had been involved years earlier, Miller said.

Chief Justice Nancy Becker questioned whether it would be wrong to allow references to such incidents as long as there was a "reasonable basis" to mention them.

Miller said there's a requirement for what's known as a "Petrocelli hearing" outside the presence of jurors, in which prosecutors must get a go-ahead from a judge to present details about a defendant that they want the jury to know about.

Deputy Clark County District Attorney Robert Daskas, the trial prosecutor, countered that there was no need for such a hearing in Blake's case. He added evidence of Blake's guilt was overwhelming.

Daskas said Blake wanted the three women to work as topless dancers and give him part of their earnings, and when they refused he deliberately marched them into the desert and shot each of them twice. Nothing in the execution-style shootings suggested he was temporarily insane, the prosecutor added.

Blake was sentenced to die after being convicted of two counts of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon and one count of attempted murder for the March 5, 2003, shootings. The murder victims were Sophear Choy, 19, and Priscilla Van Dine, 23. Choy's older sister, Kim, also was shot but survived.

The high court will issue a ruling on Blake's appeal at a later date.