Gardnerville man enters guilty plea in Carson City slaying

One of four men charged in the October murder of Adam Wells pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces more than 20 years in jail, court documents reveal.

Gardnerville resident Tyler Cruz, 24, appeared in Carson City District Court on Tuesday and entered guilty pleas to second-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

In exchange for the pleas, charges of principal to open murder, principal to kidnapping with the use of a deadly weapon, principal to battery with the use of a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime, were dismissed.

Cruz, in the Carson City Jail without bail, signed the plea agreement April 19.

According to court records, Cruz, Danny Shaw, 21, and Juan Cervantes, 21, lured Wells to Shaw's Stanford Drive house "under the pretext of friendship" on Oct. 5, but with the intention of getting even with Wells for allegedly stealing from Shaw.

Court records charge that as Wells was sitting in a chair, Shaw emerged from a back room and struck him several times with a bat.

Over the course of the next two hours, Cruz and Shaw allegedly bound and beat Wells before placing his lifeless body into the back of a truck, and dumping it in the hills of east Carson City off Sedge Road.

A fourth man, Fred Bechtold, 21, is charged with destroying evidence after allegedly helping Shaw and Cruz clean up the home and dispose of shoes and other evidence of the crime.

Second-degree murder carries a penalty of either 10 years to life in prison or 10 to 25 years.

Under Nevada law, if a deadly weapon is used in the commission of a crime, the sentence is doubled.

Conspiracy to commit kidnapping carries a penalty of one to six years in prison.

Adam's father, Jerry Wells, said Wednesday he believes Cruz deserves life in prison for the murder of his son, but he was relieved to hear it would be at least 21 years before Cruz would be eligible for parole.

"We always felt that a life sentence was appropriate for this," he said. "Obviously we would have liked to have had first-degree with a minimum of 40 years."

When Cruz is sentenced June 2, Wells' mother, sister and father all plan to testify.

"The judge hasn't been through the hearings and he didn't know Adam," Jerry Wells said.

"We think it's important he knows him and sees what effect Adam's death has had on our family."

As for a plea deal for Shaw, Jerry Wells said his family is "absolutely" against anything less than first-degree murder.

Shaw and Wells became friends in sixth grade and had maintained a friendship until just before Wells' death, he said.

Weeks before the killing, Wells had moved out of the home he rented with Shaw and back into his parents' house.

"It was Danny's deal, it was his whole show. He organized it, he carried it out, he directed it," Jerry Wells said. "It was like Danny became a different person."

Shaw is scheduled to stand trial June 6. Cervantes' trial is set to begin June 27. Bechtold's trial begins Tuesday.


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