Man who spent 20 years on Nevada's death row faces new charge

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A man who spent 20 years on Nevada's death row for a 1978 murder he says he didn't commit was arrested Monday for a second old murder.

Jack Mazzan, 54, facing a January retrial for the stabbing death of a Reno judge's son, was arrested on a charge of also killing the victim's girlfriend, April Barber, a prostitute.

A no-bail warrant for Mazzan's arrest was issued by Reno Justice of the Peace Harold Albright, at the request of Reno Police Detective Dave Jenkins and the Washoe County district attorney's office.

JoNell Thomas, one of Mazzan's lawyers, called the latest arrest ''the most outrageous miscarriage of justice I've ever experienced in my career.''

''There's no evidence. He wasn't charged 23 years ago because there was absolutely no validity to that charge,'' Thomas added. ''The state charges are absolute fiction and nonsense and they know it.''

Mazzan, who has been driving a cab in Reno while awaiting a retrial in the Richard Minor Jr. murder case, is expected to appear in Justice Court for an initial appearance on the latest charges Tuesday or Wednesday.

Barber's remains were found in 1979 in a shallow grave along Interstate 80, near the old Mustang Ranch brothel, but authorities think she was killed at about the same time as Minor.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Barb said the new complaint alleges that Barber was stabbed several times and some of her clothing, along with Mazzan's jacket stained with Minor's blood, was found dumped in the trash.

The clothing was dumped after Mazzan had been arrested for Minor's stabbing death. But Barb and Jenkins said authorities believe Mazzan, while in jail, asked someone to get rid of various items in his home.

Barb and Jenkins also said the affidavit in support of the murder charge alleges specks of Barber's blood were found on one of Mazzan's shoes.

After numerous unsuccessful appeals of the Minor murder conviction, Mazzan was freed in January 2000. The Nevada Supreme Court overturned his conviction, saying prosecutors withheld information about other suspects - including alleged drug-dealers who hadn't been paid for thousands of dollars worth of drugs supplied to Minor.

Jenkins said the alleged drug-dealers were questioned after Mazzan's release, and Reno police don't consider them to be suspects in either the Barber or Minor murders.

''There is absolutely no evidence of their involvement in either murder,'' Jenkins said.


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