Press Release

Death penalty avoided.

Client was charged with 3 counts of capital murder. He claimed self-defense, but was convicted after a hotly contested 3 week jury trail. Thereafter, a sentence of life with the possibility of parole on each count was negotiated thereby avoiding the death penalty.

Read Review Journal Article Here

Man receives life sentence for 2017 triple homicide shooting. | Las Vegas Review-Journal

A 34-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for a 2017 triple homicide.

In May, a jury convicted Delon Holston of three counts of first degree murder with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon. Holston was a passenger in a rental car on the 4100 block of Silver Dollar Avenue on June 13, 2017, when he shot the three other occupants — 31-year-old Tory Barnett, 36-year-old Jason Harvey and 26-year-old Justin Brooks.

All three victims were shot in the head, prosecutors said. Harvey was shot four times in the back of the head and died at the scene. Barnett also died at the scene, and was shot nine times, four to the head, as she tried to escape the car, leaving a trail of blood and hair behind her, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Giordani said during the trial’s closing arguments, according to court transcripts.

Brooks died months later at University Medical Center, the Clark County coroner’s office has said.

“The state is correct, these people were executed in the back of this car,” District Judge Tierra Jones said during Holston’s sentencing hearing on Thursday.

Read Review Journal Article Here


Ex-Las Vegas illusionist wants to drop child-porn plea!

Former Strip illusionist Jan Rouven wants to back out of his plea to federal child pornography charges, but a judge said Friday that she first needs to analyze evidence to determine whether he understood the possible prison sentence he could face.

Rouven, whose show at the Tropicana was canceled after his March 2016 arrest, pleaded guilty last year after more than two days of testimony during a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro. Under the deal he struck with prosecutors, Rouven admitted to possessing, receiving and distributing thousands of videos and images of child pornography. He could be ordered to serve a little more than 30 years behind bars.

But his new attorney, Karen Connolly, told the judge on Friday that Rouven’s previous lawyers did not fully explain the possible length of the sentence. Rouven thought he would receive five years behind bars, Connolly said.

“It was ineffective not to take the time and discuss it with him,” she told the judge. “What they told him was unrealistic. It’s fair and it’s just to let him withdraw his plea.”

Connolly called the previous lawyers’ actions “incomprehensible” and said Rouven only fully understood that his prison term could be longer after he talked about federal sentencing guidelines with a fellow inmate at the Nevada Southern Detention Center.

The judge ordered testimony from Rouven’s trial lawyers, including Jess Marchese, Ben Durham and Michael Sanft, at a hearing on March 9.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elham Roohani told the judge that she believed Marchese and Sanft had properly communicated the possible prison term to Rouven.

“Everybody knew what the numbers would be,” Roohani said.

Indicted under his full name, Jan Rouven Fuechtener, the former magician also faces a fine of $5,000 for each victim authorities identify. At the time of Rouven’s plea, Marchese said there could be as many as 85 identifiable victims, which would amount to a total fine of $425,000.

According to a criminal complaint, the investigation of Rouven began in August 2015 when an undercover FBI agent from Buffalo, New York, infiltrated a computer file-sharing network dealing in child pornography.

Investigators later found images and videos, which ranged from five minutes to more than an hour and featured juveniles, adults and animals, on devices in Rouven’s backyard casita, on his pool deck, in his kitchen and in his bedrooms.

Article by: David Ferrara

Read Review Journal Article Here
Read Seattle Times Article Here

Las Vegas illusionist arrested for child porn may ask to take back guilty plea

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News2LV) – Las Vegas illusionist Jan Rouven may ask a federal judge to take back his guilty plea on child pornography charges.

Rouven, who has a new attorney, was set to be sentenced in federal court on Friday. Attorney Karen Connolly filed paperwork to have the sentencing continued to June 30.

The FBI arrested Rouven last March on suspicion of felony child pornography crimes. Prosecutors alleged Rouven, using the online name “Lars45,” shared thousands of pornographic images on a peer-to-peer file sharing program.

Two days after the start of his trial in federal court, Rouven accepted a plea agreement and admitted to possessing, receiving, and distributing child pornography.

Attorney Karen Connolly confirmed that she may ask the court to vacate Rouven’s guilty plea, during a phone call with News 3.

Rouven faces up to 30 years in prison.

The performer has been in federal custody since his arrest.

He was the star of “The New Illusions,” a live stage show at the Tropicana.

Read News 3 Article Here

Karen A. Connolly Secures Reversal of Murder Conviction

Karen A. Connolly has secured the reversal of a first-degree murder conviction of a father who claims that he accidentally shot his wife, the mother of his child. In a thoughtful and persuasive opinion issued last month, the Honorable District Judge Abbi Silver of the Eighth Judicial District Court determined that Mauricio Melendez was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel during trial.

The Trial

In 2008, Mauricio Melendez and his wife Chennel were talking and drinking beer at their dining room table after spending the day with family at a barbeque. Their son Ciran, who at the time was just seven years old, was playing video games in his bedroom in the family’s Las Vegas apartment. Melendez claimed that after his son fell asleep, he accidentally shot Chennel while showing her how to use his gun. Chennel died of a single gunshot wound and had no other injuries.

A month later, Melendez was charged by the State of Nevada with one count of murder with use of a deadly weapon. He was convicted of first-degree murder at trial and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, plus a consecutive term of eight to 20 years in prison because a deadly weapon had been used.

During his trial, Melendez was represented by two public defenders from the Clark County Public Defender’s Office. He filed an appeal of his conviction, once again represented by a public defender. Melendez was devastated when the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed his conviction.

A Chance to Prove His Innocence

Determined to prove his innocence, Melendez filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus without help from a lawyer (also known as “pro se“). A writ of habeas corpus is a motion used to bring a prisoner before a court to determine if his or her imprisonment is lawful. In his petition, Melendez argued that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Karen A. Connolly was appointed by the court to represent Melendez in the proceedings that could ultimately give him another chance at fighting for his innocence. She prepared and submitted additional materials to the court in support of Melendez’s petition, raising a number of additional challenges to his conviction.

Connolly represented Melendez in a hearing on his petition. She successfully argued that the public defenders who represented Melendez at his criminal trial made a series of blunders that amounted to a violation of his constitutional rights. For one, one of Melendez’s public defenders admitted to his guilt during closing arguments and told jurors to convict him of manslaughter. This undermined Melendez’s own testimony at trial that the shooting was an accident. The public defenders also failed to object to damning testimony by a witness for the state, seek expert witnesses to support their defense theories, and interview other witnesses appropriately.

Judge Silver concluded that Connolly had met the high evidentiary burden to establish that trial counsel was in fact ineffective, warranting a reversal of Melendez’s conviction. Citing authority from the United States Supreme Court as well as the Nevada Supreme Court, Judge Silver stated that “the performance of [Melendez’s] trial counsel fell below any objective standard of reasonableness to such an extent that it rendered [his guilty] verdict unreliable and [his] trial unfair.”

A Victory for Justice

Connolly was pleased to represent Melendez in his successful petition to have his verdict overturned. She believes that the victory affirms important constitutional principles and should serve as a reminder of the importance of hiring an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney.

Murder Conviction Reversed

The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his wife. He received a sentence of 40 years to life in prison. He unsuccesfully appealed his conviction to the Nevada Supreme Court, it was denied. Ms. Connolly represented him on post-conviction relief. She successfully proved that her client’s constitutional rights had been violated; that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. As a result, the conviction was reversed.

View the Court Order
View the LVRJ Article
View the Article

Convictions Reversed: Felony Case

A jury convicted the defendant of 25 felonies including multiple robberies and burglaries with use of a deadly weapon. Karen A. Connolly was his appellate lawyer. She argued to the Nevada Supreme Court that the defendant’s Miranda rights had been violated and that his multiple convictions should be thrown out. The Nevada Supreme Court agreed, the convictions were reversed and the sentence was vacated.

View LVRJ Article

View Court Opinion

Murder Conviction Overturned

After the defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sent to prison for life, Karen A. Connolly took over his case. Ms. Connolly not only got the conviction overturned, she secured the defendant’s release.

To follow the case as documented by the Las Vegas Review Journal, click the links below:

Click here to view the LVRJ Article from June 4, 2008

Click here to view the LVRJ Article from Sept. 1, 2008

Click here to view the LVRJ Article from Oct. 1, 2008

Click here to view the LVRJ Article from Oct. 2, 2008

Click here to view the LVRJ Article from March 7, 2009

Multiple Murder Convictions Reversed

Defendant was convicted in a capital trial of four counts of first degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and other offenses. He received multiple sentences of life without the possibility of parole. Thereafter, Ms. Connolly represented him. Both the trial and penalty phase of the trial were plagued by constitutional error. Consequently, the Supreme Court of Nevada concluded that the district court abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s repeated motions for substitution of counsel. Accordingly, they reversed and remanded this case to the district court for appointment of new counsel and for a new trial.

View the Nevada Supreme Court opinion in Young v. State