LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada death row inmate who was convicted of killing three people in a shooting and fiery crash on the Las Vegas Strip has won an appeal in a separate rape and robbery case for which he had been serving 16 years to life in prison.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson didn’t immediately respond Friday to messages about whether he’ll seek another trial for Ammar Asim Faruq Harris in the sex assault case.
The ruling won’t free Harris from prison. Prosecutor David Stanton and Harris’ defense attorney, Robert Langford, both noted that the appeal in the rape case has no effect on Harris’ death sentence.
A three-judge state Supreme Court panel ruled Thursday that Clark County District Court Judge Kathleen Delaney should not have rejected Harris’ request to represent himself at trial in the sex case.
“The district court denied the motion based solely on its belief that Harris lacked the legal skills and knowledge to represent himself,” the justices said. “This was an improper basis.”
Langford represented Harris when a jury in Las Vegas found him guilty in 2013 of four felonies in a June 2010 attack on an 18-year-old woman in the shower of a condominium off the Las Vegas Strip.
Langford said Harris stated clearly that he wanted to represent himself.
Stanton said the request came without a representative of the district attorney’s office in the courtroom.
Langford also represented Harris when he was convicted in October 2015 after trial in the February 2013 vehicle-to-vehicle shooting and fireball crash that killed an aspiring rapper with whom Harris had exchanged words at a Strip resort valet parking stand, and a taxi driver and a tourist in a car that burst into flames when the rapper’s Maserati hit it.
Harris, now 30, is housed at Ely State Prison. He also is serving a five-year term after pleading guilty to masterminding a scheme to smuggle items into prison when he was housed at a medium-security facility closer to Las Vegas.