Controversy is still swirling around Attorney General Adam Laxalt after he cast the lone vote against granting a pardon to a man who spent 21 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of murder.
Governor Brian Sandoval and all seven members of the Nevada Supreme Court voted to pardon Frederick Steese for the 1992 murder of a North Las Vegas man.
The case of Fred Steese has been winding through Nevada courts for decades. In fact, it first came to public attention in a series of stories by former 8 News Now I-Team Reporter Colleen McCarty, who outlined serious questions about Steese’s guilt, despite his confession to police and a 1995 conviction.
Steese was immediately a suspect in the grisly June 1992 death of Gerard Soules, a Circus Circus dog show emcee. Steese had known Soules because the two were roommates. Steese briefly lived with Soules in his North Las Vegas trailer.
After his arrest, and a long interrogation by North Las Vegas Police, Steese confessed to the crime, saying he killed soules during a burglary. But as McCarty reported, there was ample evidence that Steese was not in the Las Vegas valley on the day of Soules’ murder.
After a series of appeals, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a local judge to take another look at the case. She did, and found overwhelming evidence to support Steese’s innocence. She ruled Steese had presented enough evidence to allow him to proceed with an appeal that could free him from prison.
Instead, Clark County prosecutors and Steese struck a deal: He would admit that the state could again convict him of the crime, and he could go free, albeit with the conviction on his record.
Steese agreed but insisted on asking for a full pardon. That request came before the Board of Pardon Commissioners last week.
Politics Now Co-host Steve Sebelius has more on what happened in front of the Board of Pardon Commissioners.