Andrews sentencing continued – again

LOVELOCK — The case involving Nick Andrews, 23, of Winnemucca, remains unresolved as the sentencing hearing on Tuesday (Sept. 20) did little to move the matter forward.

Andrews has been in custody since his May 2006 arrest for aiding abetting in the shooting death of a local man at Sonoma Canyon.

This was the second time a sentencing hearing was scheduled.  The first was April 5, but the process became bogged down over an evidence dispute, which was ultimately resolved by the Nevada Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, behind-the-scenes discussions by the attorneys delayed the start of the hearing for 90 minutes, witness testimony was lengthy, and the amount of time served was in dispute. Judge Michael Montero, of the 6thJudicial District Court, finally called it a day and ordered an all-day hearing for October 20 to resolve the case.

Judge Montero ordered both sides to submit blind briefs on the issue of time served. A blind brief allows each side to argue their points without the possibility of responding to the other side.

The issue of time served was complicated. Although he has been in custody since 2006, Andrews was previously convicted of felony burglary (for actions he took during the 2006 shooting of Moritz) and was also convicted of two felonies in Humboldt County (for two drive-by shootings that occurred before the Moritz murder).

Although originally charged with first-degree murder, Andrews did not pull the trigger of the gun that killed George Moritz, then 19 years old.  Instead, Andrews was charged with aiding and abetting Matt Hutchinson, then 18 years old, who pled guilty to first-degree murder for the shooting death of Moritz. Hutchinson is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Andrews ultimately pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter pursuant to North Carolina v Alford, which allows defendants to plead guilty to a charge while maintaining his or her innocence in order to avoid being convicted of a greater offense.  However, an Alford plea is treated as a guilty plea by the court.

A plea agreement with the state set the possible prison sentence at 4-10 years on the  manslaughter charge.  The deadly weapon enhancement represents another possible 1-10 years in prison and must be served consecutively.  Probation is an option for the court to consider depending on several factors – including the defendant’s criminal history.

The defense was expected to file a motion for another reduction in bail.

Andrews remains in custody at the Pershing County Jail on $100,000 bail.

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