09/23/2007

Trial begins for man accused of slashing wife, shooting judge

By TOM GARDNER
Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. — The trial of the man accused of slashing his wife to death and shooting the judge who was hearing their divorce will begin as scheduled Oct. 1, but a few details remain undetermined, including whether he will pursue a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors and attorneys for Darren Mack met for about 30 minutes Friday with Judge Douglas Herndon in his chamber at Washoe District Court, then Herndon outlined the gist of the meeting in open court.

Herndon said each side agreed that Mack was competent to stand trial and that they were ready to begin jury selection a week from Monday. The size of the jury pool has not been announced.

Another hearing will be held Thursday to resolve a handful of issues and to determine the number of expert witnesses each side expects to call so the judge can give prospective jurors and estimate of how long the trial will last. Special prosecutor Christopher Lalli said his best guess was two to three weeks.

Mack is charged with fatally stabbing Charla Mack in June of last year and with the sniper shooting the same day of their divorce judge, Chuck Weller, who has recovered from a chest wound. Mack has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

One issue to be resolved on Thursday is the status of the insanity defense. Another is whether an e-mail Mack allegedly sent to Washoe District Attorney Richard Gammick can be used at trial.

Lalli and Robert Daskas of the Clark County district attorney's office are prosecuting the case since it involves a Washoe County judge. In addition, Gammick had a long association with Mack's family.

Herndon also is hearing the case on assignment from Clark County.

Mack, who is being held without bail, appeared in court wearing a white shirt and blue tie. He spoke briefly with his attorney, Scott Freemen, but sat motionless through the hearing.

Copyright 2007 Las Vegas Sun

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