LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas man and woman who had faced three charges alleging they planned to abduct, torture and kill patrol officers to draw attention to an anti-authority sovereign citizen philosophy are heading for trial in Nevada state court on a single conspiracy count.
Prosecutors previously dropped the two most serious charges against David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman, before a Las Vegas judge on Thursday ordered them to stand trial on a lesser felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping charge.
The charge could get Brutsche, 42, and Newman, 67, up to six years in prison — much less than the possibility of life in prison on kidnapping with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit murder charges
Defense attorneys claim police entrapped the two during an almost five-month undercover operation, and that prosecutors overreached with the initial charges.
"Bottom line, they didn't have proof of conspiracy to murder. And they never kidnapped anyone," Newman's defense attorney, Carl Arnold, said outside court.
Police "spent hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars on this case, and all they did was talk," he said.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Lalli told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the kidnapping and murder conspiracy charges were dropped Sept. 9 because prosecutors received new evidence following the arrests.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Lalli were out of town Friday and unavailable for comment.
Officer Laura Meltzer, a police spokeswoman, said the department wouldn't comment on an ongoing case.
Brutsche and Newman are expected to enter pleas at their arraignment Oct. 8 in Clark County District Court. Brutsche has protested at each court appearance since their Aug. 20 arrests that police and the courts have no authority over him.
Police alleged that Brutsche and Newman were domestic terrorists and members of a loosely organized extremist group blamed for killing law enforcement officers in the past 10 years in South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and California. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., estimates there are 300,000 adherents to sovereign citizen ideas around the country.
Brutsche, an ex-felon child sex offender from California who sometimes sold water to tourists on the Las Vegas Strip, again told Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen during a preliminary hearing on Thursday that he wanted to serve as his own attorney.
But the judge kept a court-appointed lawyer at Brutsche's side.
The deputy public defender, Jessica Murphy, didn't immediately respond Friday to messages.
Undercover Detective Scott Majewski was the only witness during the more than six-hour preliminary hearing. He testified that Brutsche and Newman trained with firearms, acted out kidnapping scenarios, constructed an apparatus to hold a kidnapped officer in a house and produced videos explaining their actions, the Review-Journal said.
The detective said the two defendants believed police betrayed their oath to the U.S. Constitution and were guilty of treason.
Arnold attempted to show that Newman, a mother and paralegal who moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, stayed with the group because she feared Brutsche.
Neither Brutsche nor Newman testified.
Brutsche and Newman remain in custody at the Clark County Detention Center; Brutsche on $600,000 bail and Newman on $200,000 bail.
Brutsche also faces felony charges in a separate case alleging he failed to register as a sex offender when he moved to Nevada.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com