Nevada’s ‘stand your ground’ law in focus

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iol pic wld Nevada Trespassing Killing~3 Associated Press Wayne Burgarello (back) listens to his public defender, Justin Champagne, during his bail hearing in Sparks Justice Court. Picture: Marilyn Newton, The Reno Gazette Journal

Sparks, Nevada -

Bail was set at $2 million on Thursday for a 73-year-old former school teacher charged with murder in the shooting of two unarmed trespassers that is bringing attention to Nevada's “stand your ground” law.

Wayne Burgarello, who cried out at his bail hearing in pain he blamed on inadequate medical care at the county jail, insists he was acting in self-defence in February when he killed a 34-year-old man and seriously wounded a woman he found in a vacant house he owns in Sparks.

Burgarello shot Cody Devine, 34, five times, once in the head, after Burgarello said Devine had raised his arm at him in a threatening manner, police said.

Prosecutor Bruce Hahn said in Sparks Justice Court on Thursday the evidence will show Devine's “wound track belies his claim of self-defence”.

“No other weapons were found,” he said.

Sparks Justice of the Peace Chris Wilson said the seriousness of the charges and concern about the safety of the community outweighed any presumption of innocence at a bail hearing. He also cited the seven long-barrelled guns, five handguns and nearly a dozen knives police said they found in a safe at Burgarello's home, along with a pair of brass knuckles, which are illegal to possess in Nevada.

Burgarello's public defender, Justin Champagne, wanted bail set at $20 000. He insisted the elderly man, who has suffered a heart attack and two strokes, is not a flight risk.

Champagne said it will be impossible to post such excessive bail at the county jail, which he said is subjecting itself to liability by failing to provide Burgarello the necessary medication in solitary confinement.

“He deserves to be released from jail,” Champagne said, adding his assets total perhaps $150 000.

Nevada is one of more than 30 states that have “stand your ground” laws that allow deadly force against attackers posing an imminent threat. The law doesn't require the attacker to be armed, but it says the shooter cannot be the original aggressor. - Sapa-AP

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