Supreme Court upholds conviction in prison slaying

Nevada Supreme Court justices rejected appeals from two Nevada inmates convicted in the beating death of another.

Robert Ryan Rowland and Tony Smith were convicted of beating Steven Bruce Silva to death in January 1998 in his Nevada State Prison cell in Carson City.

Testimony at trial indicated they did so because Silva refused to share his methadone tablets with them.

Rowland and Smith were members of a prison gang known as GFBD, which stands for "God Forgives, Brothers Don't." Two others listed as co-conspirators, Juan Pedro LaPiere and Ricky Irvine, were not charged and testified against Rowland and Smith. Irvine testified during the grand jury hearing, but was found hanged in his cell.

Rowland appealed on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct and while the high court agreed in a couple of specific instances, justices Miriam Shearing, Bob Rose and Nancy Becker ruled the instances were insufficient to warrant overturning the verdict.

"There was overwhelming evidence of Rowland's guilt and instances of prosecutorial impropriety did not deprive Rowland of a fair trial," the opinion states.

In a separate order, the same three justices upheld Smith's conviction. Smith appealed his murder, burglary and conspiracy convictions claiming the prosecutor deliberately misstated his alibi evidence, gave her personal opinion during closing arguments and vouched for a witness' credibility.

The court concluded those actions did not prejudice the jury and denied his motion to overturn his conviction.

Both men were convicted of murder in the case and sentenced to life in prison.


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