A preliminary hearing was postponed Thursday for three people accused of kidnapping, torturing and killing a man in a remote area near Pahrump.
Pahrump Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson delayed the hearing for Las Vegas resident Heather Pate, 27; her boyfriend, 36-year-old Kevin Dent; and her former boyfriend 37-year-old Brad Mehn until Sept. 30.
The three have been charged with murder with a deadly weapon and kidnapping with a deadly weapon in connection with the killing of 27-year-old Roy Jaggers. The Las Vegas man’s body was found Aug. 1 in Cathedral Canyon near Pahrump, court records show.
The courtroom was packed on Thursday, and prosecutor Kirk Vitto told the judge he was prepared to call at least a dozen witnesses.
Jaggers’ family sat behind prosecutors, as his mother, Kassy Robinson, could be heard quietly crying while she looked at the handcuffed suspects.
The hearing was delayed after defense attorneys argued that they did not have enough time to review evidence they received from the state.
Deputies arrested Pate, Dent and Mehn within 36 hours of the initial 911 call reporting the discovery of Jaggers’ body, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office has said.
Jaggers was tortured with a blowtorch, knives, baton and axe, then was stripped of his clothes and forced to walk off a cliff, authorities say. Mehn then shot him repeatedly with a shotgun, court records allege.
Pate and her boyfriend are accused of luring Jaggers to Pate’s home because they thought he had hurt Pate’s child, the Sheriff’s Office has said.
“The investigation reveals that the suspects thought that the victim had committed pedophilia several days prior and that the victim’s torture and subsequent death was retaliation,” an investigator wrote in arrest reports released by the Sheriff’s Office.
Mehn’s attorney, Thomas Gibson, said Thursday that he did not know if the allegation was true.
After the hearing, Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia said, “I think that people should wait and find out what’s happening before they get wrapped up in speculation.”
Arabia said he is still considering pursuing the death penalty for at least one of the suspects.
Nadine Morton, Pate’s attorney, argued Thursday that her client should be released on her own recognizance to return to Las Vegas, where her two children live. Jasperson denied the request.
Gibson also filed a motion Thursday requesting a gag order on the Nye County Sheriff’s Office. Gibson argued in the motion that Mehn’s right to a fair trial was threatened by information the Sheriff’s Office released to media.
Jaggers’ parents, who spoke with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in August, declined to discuss the specifics of the case, but both said their son was a kind man who would not hurt anyone.
“I know exactly what he was like, what he’s capable of, what he’s not capable of,” his mother said.
According to the arrest reports, all three suspects confessed to the killing after they were arrested.
Jaggers suffered injuries to his legs and right hand, with gunshot wounds, stab wounds, burn wounds and blunt force trauma to his head, the reports said.
After Jaggers was lured to Pate’s home, he was handcuffed and forced into her car, the reports said. Pate and Dent drove Jaggers to the Bell Vista shooting range in Pahrump, where Mehn met them. The Sheriff’s Office has said the three tortured Jaggers for hours.
The suspects then drove Jaggers to Mehn’s home in Pahrump “so that Mehn could switch vehicles.” They then “taped the victim up in a tarp” and drove him to Cathedral Canyon, the reports said.
Pate, Dent and Mehn remained Thursday in the Nye County Detention Center.