A coroner’s inquest may determine whether the Dec. 2 shooting death of Gardnerville resident Jason Thrift was murder or justifiable homicide.
Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson said he notified East Fork Justice of the Peace Tom Perkins on Monday that an inquest is appropriate.
Jackson said he discussed the inquest with Sheriff Ron Pierini, who is ex officio coroner, and that Pierini agreed with the decision.
“Based upon all the facts and information known to both myself and Sheriff Pierini, we believe a coroner’s inquest to inquire into the events leading up to and at the time of the shooting is appropriate and needed to assist in determining whether the death was a result of criminal means or a justifiable homicide,” Jackson said. “The findings and verdict of the coroner’s jury could have an effect on the pending criminal charge of open murder.”
In a letter sent to Perkins, Jackson wants the inquest for 9 a.m. Jan. 23 and Jan. 24 if needed.
“Judge Perkins must summon three persons qualified by law to serve as jurors to appear on those dates and inquire into the cause of death,” Jackson said. “I will subpoena and examine witnesses during the inquest.”
Gardnerville resident Nicole Followill, 29, is being held on $1 million bail on an open murder charge in relation to the shooting that occurred at a home on Toler Lane.
Followill claimed housemate Thrift, 33, who was being evicted from the home, had struck her. Thrift was a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq.
An inquest is like a trial to determine the cause of someone’s death. Both expert and lay witnesses offer testimony and the jury determines the facts surrounding the death.
The last inquest held in Douglas County was in the death of Lance Wardleigh in April 2000, according to Jackson. Wardleigh died after he was punched during a Christmas party in December 1999.