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Nevada grants man his innocence following 13-year wrongful conviction

Posted at 1:19 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 16:45:17-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford announces that Reginald D. Mason, aka Reginald D. Hayes, was granted a certificate of innocence.

He was also awarded $975,000 from the state of Nevada as compensation for the 13 years spent in prison following his wrongful conviction.

Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Douglas W. Herndon entered stipulated orders on Dece. 9, 2020, which AG Ford fully supported.

The Board of Examiners approved the payment on Feb. 9, 2021.

In 1985, when he was only 14-years-old, Mason was convicted by Nevada of four counts of attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon and one count of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon.

However, less than a year later, the presiding judge resigned following a preliminary emergency investigation by the Nevada Supreme Court. This investigation eventually revealed willful misconduct beginning a year before Mason’s trial.

In 1988, the state agreed to permit Mason to enter a nolo contendere plea to reduced charges of first-degree kidnapping and he was released on a time-served sentence on November 19, 1998.

The following year, Mason received a unanimous pardon from the State of Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners based on his actual innocence.

In 2019, the Nevada Legislature adopted Assembly Bill 267 – codified in NRS 41.900 et seq. – to compensate persons who have been wrongfully incarcerated if they can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they did not commit the crime for which they were convicted, were not an accomplice and did not otherwise cause their own conviction.

Additional costs, including reasonable attorney fees, educational expenses, counseling services and certain other reimbursements are also permitted.

“I am elated that after many years, Mr. Mason has been declared an innocent man after he was arrested and convicted as a teenager," said AG Ford. "Time was stolen from him at a young age and no one can replace that. The pursuit of justice is paramount to the mission of my office and I could not be prouder of the attorneys in my office who worked on this case to obtain justice for Mr. Mason."

This case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Post-Conviction Division and litigated by Senior Deputy Attorney General Heather Procter, Deputy Attorney General Jaimie Stilz, and Deputy Attorney General Sheryl Serreze.