LAS VEGAS (AP) — Prosecutors in Las Vegas won't seek the death penalty in the shooting death of a mother of four in a case that authorities initially dubbed road rage, but later said may have resulted from a tragic chain of neighborhood coincidences and misperceptions.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson met Wednesday with attorneys for Erich Milton Nowsch Jr., 19, and Derrick Andrews, 26, then issued a statement saying that he and eight supervisory deputies decided the evidence wouldn't support capital punishment.
Nowsch's lawyers, brothers Augustus Claus and Conrad Claus, and Andrews' attorney, Martin Hart, called Wolfson's decision appropriate. "We hoped the DA would make the right and logical choice," Hart said.
An attorney representing the Meyers family invoked the memory of the slain woman, Tammy Meyers, said she had a mentoring relationship with neighborhood children, and said the family supported Wolfson's decision.
"Tammy Meyers was adamantly opposed to the death penalty," attorney Samuel Schwartz said.
Nowsch is accused of firing a .45-caliber handgun from a silver Audi sedan with Andrews at the wheel late Feb. 12, fatally wounding Meyers in a residential cul-de-sac west of downtown Las Vegas.
Meyers' son, Brandon Meyers, fired his 9mm handgun three times in the street, police said. But he wasn't hit by gunfire during what prosecutor David Stanton has said may have been a barrage of 24 shots by Nowsch.
Andrews faces the same charges as Nowsch because Andrews is accused of aiding and abetting the crime.
Each has pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder, firing a weapon from a vehicle and conspiracy. Each could still face life in prison with or without parole if convicted of murder. The other charges, combined, could get them up to 60 years in prison.
Trial is scheduled May 26 in Clark County District Court.
Conrad Claus pointed to what he called "a whole bunch of mitigators" involving Nowsch, including his age, lack of adult criminal record, past trauma that includes a head injury suffered when he was a baby at the hands of his father, and his father's suicide when Nowsch was 15.
Hart said Andrews had one prior misdemeanor theft conviction and wasn't accused of firing a weapon.
Conrad Claus said the defense also could argue that Tammy and Brandon Meyers helped shape the chain of events that led to the shooting.
Nowsch lived one street away from the Meyers family, and police and prosecutors say he'd been in the Meyers home for dinner at least once.
But Nowsch, who Stanton said sold marijuana and pills in a neighborhood park, apparently didn't recognize the Meyers' green sedan on the night of the shooting.
He later told friends that he thought the people in a green car cruising slowly late at night through a school parking lot were after him, according to a police report.
Police say Meyers' daughter was at the wheel at the time, practicing driving with her mother.
Later, Tammy Meyers apparently thought Andrews' silver Audi was the same silver car that blocked her path home from the driving lesson with a driver who, according to the daughter, threatened them.
Tammy Meyers dropped her daughter off at home and had Brandon Meyers bring his gun and go back out with her to find and confront the driver of the silver sedan who threatened her earlier.