Bail release delayed for former Nevada death-row inmate

RENO, Nev. - Former Nevada death row inmate Jack Mazzan must wait a few more days before he's released on bail. But his lawyers say that after 20 years on death row, a few days is nothing.

Washoe District Judge Peter Breen held a hearing Friday on various motions in Mazzan's case. He ruled that property put up by a woman who's known Mazzan for years is adequate to cover his $100,000 bail while prosecutors decide whether to retry him.

But the judge noted the Virginia City property of Lavonia Young is in a trust that benefits her three adult children, and he wants to make sure the children agree with her decision. He plans to review the case Wednesday.

Young said she hopes to cook dinner for Mazzan once he's out on bail.

''Don't cook dinner tonight, Mrs. Young - but it looks like it's going to happen,'' the judge said.

Mazzan's lawyers, JoNell Thomas and Robert Langford, said the delay was a disappointment, but they understood the judge's concern that all paperwork be in order.

''We would love it if he could get out today,'' Thomas added. ''But we understand the judge's rationale. Jack's been waiting for 22 years. He can wait a couple more days. He's all right. He sees the light there.''

Mazzan, 53, was arrested shortly after the 1978 killing of Richard Minor Jr., son of a Reno judge. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1979 and was put on death row in January 1980.

Last January, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed Mazzan's conviction, blasting prosecutors for failing to give the defense information about other suspects that might have cleared Mazzan.

Minor's body was found in his apartment by his father, then Reno Justice of the Peace Richard C. Minor. Judge Minor, now retired, has said he always doubted the state's theory that one person, acting alone, was responsible for the killing.

Young, whose daughter helped Mazzan come to Reno about 23 years ago, said she offered to post her property for his bail because she believes he's innocent.

The district attorney's office had opposed bail for Mazzan, contending he might flee rather than face another murder trial. Mazzan's lawyers dismissed that argument.

In addition to next week's bail hearing, Breen plans a June 16 hearing on various motions in advance of a scheduled July 10 retrial of Mazzan.

One of those motions is a defense request to block prosecutors from seeking the death penalty again because it would be an unconstitutionally disproportionate sentence compared with other capital cases.

''This is not even on the charts in being a death penalty case,'' Thomas argued.


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