Homeowner pleads not guilty in trespasser killing

AP News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2014 4:22 PM
Homeowner pleads not guilty in trespasser killing

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A former schoolteacher charged with murder and attempted murder in the shootings of two unarmed trespassers at a Sparks home he owned pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Wayne Burgarello, 73, entered the pleas at an arraignment hearing Wednesday, according to KOLO-TV. He's set to appear in court again on Oct. 15 for a status check.

Burgarello was arrested in May in the killing of Cody Devine, 34, and the serious wounding of Janai Wilson, 29, who he found inside his often-burglarized, vacant Sparks duplex in February.

Prosecutors say it was an unprovoked attack; Burgarello asserts he was defending himself. The case has drawn attention to Nevada's "stand your ground" law about using deadly force against attackers.

Burgarello was released from jail in August when he posted $150,000 bail, which had been reduced from $2 million.

At an Aug. 20 hearing in Reno, defense attorney Theresa Ristenpart said Burgarello cooperated with police the night of the shooting and repeatedly told officers he was sorry about the encounter in a rundown duplex his parents bought in 1947 in a working-class neighborhood east of Reno.

Washoe County prosecutor Bruce Hahn countered that Burgarello showed little remorse at the time of the shooting.

"He still insisted he didn't do anything wrong even though he shot and killed one man and seriously wounded a woman who was lying on the floor," Hahn said.

Ristenpart said Burgarello grabbed two handguns on Feb. 13 after a neighbor telephoned him about suspicious activity at the duplex that he said had been burglarized before and sometimes inhabited by squatters using drugs.

Burgarello said he found garbage, syringes and drug paraphernalia when he entered the darkened home, and called out several times that he was the homeowner and was armed.

When Burgarello entered a back bedroom, Devine's "arm came up like a gun" and the defendant opened fire, striking Devine and Wilson, Ristenpart said in a motion seeking the bail reduction.

Detectives say Burgarello shot Devine five times, once in the head. Hahn said evidence involving the wounds will counter the self-defense claim.

More than 30 states have self-defense laws that allow deadly force against attackers who pose an imminent threat, regardless of whether the aggressor is armed. Nevada law says the shooter cannot be the original aggressor.

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Information from: KOLO-TV, http://www.kolotv.com