party for "Jaiduh" hosted by AMG Lifestyle that was scheduled to be on a boat
off the coast of Florida and offered a $1,000 bikini contest.
However, no matter how Harris makes money, he is being held without bail and will not have any income going forward.
"Courts look at real assets: houses, vehicles, boats, things in his name," said Curtis Brown, chief deputy of the capital homicide unit in the Clark County Public Defender Office. "They look for things with real value in his name, and they can require you to sell assets to help pay for your defense. Now, working with cash is harder, and people's appearances aren't always reality."
Brown's office is not working on this case, and he only spoke generally on the issue of determining a defendant's financial wherewithal. The Clark County Public Defender Office had a conflict in representing Harris, and his defense has been assigned to the Special Public Defender's Office, which only handles murder cases.
A grand jury on Thursday returned an indictment against Harris, charging him with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, among other crimes stemming from the Feb. 21 shooting.
It is hard to pin down exactly how much Harris' defense will cost taxpayers, but this is certain: The bill will be much higher if the Clark County District Attorney's office seeks the death penalty. That decision will eventually be made by the district attorney's death penalty committee, which considers aggravating factors, whether a jury would impose the death penalty in the case, and whether a conviction is likely to stand up to appeal.
A study by UNLV criminal justice professor Terance Meithe released in February 2012 found that capital murder cases in Clark County on average cost $229,800 to defend, whereas murder cases in which the death penalty is not sought cost an average of $60,100. In Nevada, a defendant facing the death penalty is guaranteed two attorneys for defense.
In general, public and private defense attorneys surveyed agreed that a death penalty murder case costs about four times as much as a noncapital case.
"In a death penalty case, there are two attorneys, a variety of mental health experts, mitigation specialists, investigative specialists, and others who will be hired to research and investigate the background of the person. With this case, you are probably looking at an accident reconstruction investigation as well. It's costly for the experts," said Clark County assistant chief public defender Daren Richards, who is not representing Harris but also spoke generally on the process of appointing public defenders.
In a case of this magnitude, in which the accused could face life in prison or the death penalty, attorneys agreed the defendant typically tries to get the best attorney he can find. Private attorneys generally have more time to work on a case than a public defender who has less control of their workload.
"The defendant's actions usually tell you the real story," Brown said. "I believe he probably would've shopped for an attorney if he had the cash."
Harris is accused of shooting into a Maserati driven by Kenneth Cherry Jr. while driving north on the Las Vegas Strip in a Range Rover. Cherry and a passenger, Freddy Walters, were hit in the shooting, Metro Police said. Cherry's wounds caused him to lose control of the car, which ran a red light at Flamingo Road and crashed into a taxi. The impact caused the cab to explode.
Three people were killed and are listed as the victims in connection with the three first-degree murder counts: Cherry; the cab driver, Michael Boldon, 62, of Las Vegas; and cab passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, a businesswoman from Maple Valley, Wash. Walters survived and is the victim named in the indictment in connection with the attempted murder count.
Tehran Boldon, the younger brother of Michael Boldon, has attended every court hearing for Harris, including extradition hearings in California.
"I hope they punish him as much as this court can," Tehran Boldon said after Harris' initial Las Vegas appearance April 17, choking up. "He doesn't deserve to walk right now. He is an example of what is wrong with our society."
A reporter then asked Tehran Boldon about Harris' claim of not having enough money to pay for his own attorney.
"I'd expect him to claim he can't afford an attorney," Tehran Boldon said of the alleged shooter, whom he also called "callous" and a "coward."
"Of course, the taxpayers are going to have to foot this bill," he said. "But I pay taxes too."
(c)2013 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Visit the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) at www.lasvegassun.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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