Two of the three people accused of gruesomely torturing and killing a Las Vegas man in a remote canyon near Pahrump have pleaded guilty to murder charges.
The body of 27-year-old Roy Jaggers was found Aug. 1, 2021, in Cathedral Canyon, a former roadside attraction from the 1970s and 1980s in the Nye County desert, about 60 miles from Las Vegas. Jaggers was tortured for multiple hours, stripped of his clothing and forced to walk off a cliff, then shot repeatedly with a shotgun, according to court records.
Heather Pate, 29; her boyfriend, 37-year-old Kevin Dent; and her former boyfriend, 39-year-old Brad Mehn, were accused of torturing and killing Jaggers, who was Pate’s neighbor in Las Vegas. Dent pleaded guilty last week, and Pate entered a guilty plea on Wednesday, Jagger’s mother, Kassy Robinson, told the Review-Journal.
Robinson said she has been traveling back and forth to Pahrump for court hearings for more than a year and a half since her son’s killing.
“My heart is still breaking, it’s just I’ve become more accustomed to that feeling,” she said in a phone interview Friday. “It’s not that it’s easier, it’s just become more of something I deal with on a daily basis.”
‘My heart is just broke’
Dent pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and Pate pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping, according to the Nye County District Court’s clerk office.
Robinson and Jaggers’ father, Jerry Jaggers, said they have been frustrated by what they say is a lack of communication from the Nye County district attorney’s office. The two said that they were not notified that Dent and Pate were being offered plea deals and that prosecutors did not tell them when Pate was going to be in court to enter a guilty plea.
“We’re the victim’s family, we’re the ones who’s supposed to be notified,” Robinson said.
The two also said that for months they received no response to requests to meet with prosecutors or Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi, who was elected in June.
“My soul hurts because Roy is gone, but my heart is just broke because of the DA and what they’re doing,” Jerry Jaggers said Friday.
Kunzi said in an emailed statement Friday that his office is seeking “significant jail sentences” for Pate and Dent and that he is expecting Mehn’s case to go to trial.
“I will not, however, debate the merits of my decision until all proceedings are completed so as not to create any prejudice for the upcoming trial,” he said.
Kunzi did not comment on what Jaggers’ parents said was a lack of communication.
Robinson said she was frustrated that Pate and Dent pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges, which carry lower sentences than first-degree murder counts.
“I fear for the safety of Pahrump and Vegas when these people get out of prison,” Robinson said.
Spencer Judd, Pate’s defense attorney, declined to comment on the case. Dent’s defense attorney could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Third defendant not seeking deal
Pate and Dent are accused of luring Jaggers to Pate’s home on July 31, 2021, because the two believed Jaggers had harmed one of Pate’s children, the Nye County sheriff’s office has said.
Robinson said that during a prior court hearing, prosecutors said police found no evidence that Jaggers had hurt one of the kids.
Jaggers was handcuffed and forced into Pate’s car, and the couple drove him to Pahrump, where they met with Mehn. Authorities have accused the three of torturing Jaggers in the desert with a blowtorch, knives, a baton and an axe.
Mehn was accused of shooting Jaggers multiple times.
A medical examiner with the Clark County coroner’s office testified during a preliminary hearing in October that there were more than 30 shotgun bullets and fragments in Jaggers’ body.
Norman Mullet, an acquaintance of Mehn’s, testified in October that Mehn had called him on Aug. 1, 2021, asking for help. Mullet said he went to the canyon with Mehn, but he left after he saw that Jaggers was dead. Mullet testified that he took a toolbox and two trash bags from Mehn but declined his friend’s request to “get rid” of a shotgun.
Mehn is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday, said Thomas Gibson, Mehn’s defense attorney. Gibson said he is also expecting to take Mehn’s case to a trial.
“I’ve not been offered, nor have I asked for an offer in this case,” Gibson said Friday.