By Matt Ward
A first-degree murder suspect who has repeatedly failed to convince District Court judges to release him on bail has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court for help.
Lawyers for Daniel Robbins, charged in the shooting death of his daughter’s boyfriend in August 2011, filed a writ of habeas corpus with the state’s high court May 15.
In bold type, the writ spells out for the justices the defendant’s complaint, that he has “an absolute right to bail because even though he is charged with first degree murder, death is not an available punishment for the crime.”
Robbins and his lawyers attempted to sway Judge Robert Lane during an April hearing to grant bail — the defendant’s third attempt — but the judge, while setting bail on lesser felony charges refused to grant the motion on the murder charge.
Robbins’ lawyers argue that Lane violated their client’s constitutional rights and committed a legal error by not allowing bail. According to their Supreme Court pleading, the judge confused Nevada’s rule that defendants accused of “capital” murder are to be denied bail.
“First Degree Murder sic remains bailable as long as no aggravating circumstances have been brought forth. This belief by Judge Lane that Petitioner has no right to bail simply because he is charged with first degree murder in sic an incorrect statement of the law . . . Petitioner was, and is ready sic to post reasonable bail, but has been precluded from the opportunity to do so for 9 months in his case by erroneous actions of the court,” the filing states.
Robbins was denied bail twice by Judge Kimberly Wanker, who presided over earlier hearings. She recused herself from the case after Robbins’ attorneys discovered that after one such hearing earlier this year, the court’s recording system caught the judge in private conversation with staff members making remarks disparaging Robbins.
Robbins was jailed after allegedly shooting 21-year-old Chris Mundy and a 14-year-old passenger in Mundy’s car. A dispute at Robbins’ Benson Circle home between his two daughters turned into a brawl that had Nye County Sheriff’s deputies hauling one daughter, Mundy’s girlfriend Jennifer Robbins, then 19, off to jail.
From jail, Jennifer reportedly asked Mundy to go to her parents’ house to retrieve a vehicle.
“I didn’t know what was going on at that point. I was still locked up and I told Chris to go and get my stuff, to get my car,” she told the Pahrump Valley Times at the time. “I told him not to say anything to them. If they smacked him, just to walk away and if they called police, just let the cops know that I gave you permission to take my car, my name is on the title.”
Mundy and his girlfriend’s parents exchanged violent, curse-laden messages via Facebook leading up to Mundy showing up at the Robbins home at about 1: 30 a.m. on Aug. 18 of last year. Headlights beaming into the home, Daniel Robbins’ wife first confronted Mundy, then her husband, gun in hand, fired a warning shot into the front bumper of Mundy’s white Acura. When Mundy refused to leave, Daniel Robbins allegedly walked to the driver side window and shot Mundy point blank in neck, the bullet passing through the young man’s body and hitting the 14-year-old boy beside him.
Robbins was charged with the murder, battery on the juvenile and assault charges.
In the April hearing before Lane, two court dates were scheduled for possible trials — nine days were set aside to try the case — one in November and the other in April 2013.
In a morbid sidenote to this story, the car Mundy was killed in was taken to a temporary Nye County Sheriff’s impound yard after the shooting for processing as evidence in the case. When the sheriff’s new impound lot was opened several months ago, however, a high-ranking sheriff’s official ordered that all the vehicles being held be released or sold. Mundy’s car, bullet holes still visible, was sold by a local auto tow yard and several sources have reported seeing it driving around town.
Sources at the sheriff’s office have confirmed that the car is no longer in police custody.
In a less morbid sidenote, the Robbins family and their supporters recently sent the PVT a letter asking the newspaper to print a retraction of its April 13 story regarding the hearing before Lane.
The letter lodges several complaints about the accuracy of the story that appeared in the paper. A review of the transcript of the hearing, a recording of the hearing made by the newspaper and subsequent interviews with sources show zero cause for retracting the story.