9th Circuit again rules orders new trial in 1995 murder | RecordCourier.com

9th Circuit again rules orders new trial in 1995 murder

by Geoff Dornan
Nevada Department of Prisons

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has again ruled Peter Quinn Elvik should get a new trial on charges he murdered a Carson City man more than 20 years ago.

Elvik was convicted of shooting William Gibson, 63, at the Carson City gun range in August 1995 after running away from his Jacks Valley home.

He was 14 at the time and, under the law, defendants aged 8-14 are presumed legally not to understand their actions are wrong.

Elvik’s lawyers asked for an instruction stating that but the judge refused and, on appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court upheld the conviction saying the trial court’s decision was “harmless error.”

But a three-member panel headed by U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro disagreed and threw out the conviction saying failure to give that instruction prejudiced Elvik and made it easier to convict him.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt took the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sent the case back to the 9th Circuit for rehearing in light of more recent rulings involving juvenile defendants.

On Tuesday, the same three-judge panel reaffirmed its original decision overturning the conviction. But, as in the first time, the decision was 2-1 with District Judge John Kronstadt dissenting.

Laxalt and his staff are reviewing the ruling. They have 14 days — until July 12 — to decide whether to continue the fight to reinstate the conviction. Their options include asking for a hearing before the full 9th Circuit Court or a direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If they decide not to continue, it’s up to Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury to decide whether, he can put together enough evidence to retry the case and prove Elvik’s state of mind at the time.

The Attorney General’s office and Judge Kronstadt argued the record contains sufficient evidence Elvik understood what he did was wrong.