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Nevada man awarded over $1M for wrongful conviction

COURTROOM GAVEL
Posted at 1:50 PM, Apr 13, 2021

CARSON CITY (KTNV) — Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford is pleased to announce that the Nevada Board of Examiners approved the award of damages for Frederick Steese, following the court’s grant of a Certificate of Innocence and award of $1,350,000 from the State of Nevada as compensation for the 18 years Steese spent in prison following his wrongful conviction

Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Jasmine Lilly-Spells entered stipulated orders on March 1, which AG Ford fully supported.

In 1992, Steese was arrested for the murder of his friend, Las Vegas performer Gerard Soules.

Nearly three years later, despite extensive alibi evidence placing him in a different state at the time of the murder, Steese was convicted by the State of Nevada for Murder with Use of a Deadly Weapon, Robbery with Use of a Deadly Weapon, Burglary, and Grand Larceny Auto.

In 2012, following extensive evidentiary hearings, the Eighth Judicial District Court granted Steese’s post-conviction petition for writ of habeas corpus, finding that Steese was actually innocent. The State agreed to permit Steese to enter a nolo contendere plea to reduced charges of second-degree murder. Steese was released on a time-served sentence on February 28, 2013.

In 2017, Steese received a full, unconditional 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.

Steese is the fourth person in Nevada to receive a Certificate of Innocence under this new statute.