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Death penalty conviction upheld by Nevada Supreme Court

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the convictions and death sentences for Donte Johnson in connection with a 1988 quadruple homicide.

Johnson raised multiple issues in his post-conviction appeal, but the court unanimously upheld the lower court decision, which found no merit to the claims.

Johnson was sentenced to death for killing Jeffrey Biddle, 19, Tracey Gorringe, 20, Matthew Mowen, 19, and Peter Talamantez, 17.

The men were bound with duct tape while Johnson and two other men searched their east valley home in the Las Vegas area. Before they left, Johnson shot each man in the back of the head. The robbers made off with about $240, a pager, a videocassette recorder and a video game system.

The trial jury deadlocked in 2000 during the penalty phase, and a three-judge panel later handed down a death sentence. But that sentence was overturned.

A jury again sentenced Johnson to death in 2005. He is on death row at Ely State Prison.

The post-conviction appeal covered issues both in his 2000 conviction and later 2005 death sentence.

Among the claims were that the jury selection process in his 2000 trial was flawed because there was an under-representation of African Americans in the jury pool. Johnson also argued that his attorney should have challenged the introduction of evidence, including autopsy photos.

The Supreme Court rejected all of the claims.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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