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DEATH PENALTY INVESTIGATION: Nevada's Death Row: Different paths, same destination

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Updated: 5/01 9:16 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- There are more people waiting on death row in Nevada than have been executed in the state's 148-year history. Only 12 people have been put to death since the death penalty was reinstated here in 1976.

The state has spent millions of dollars prosecuting and defending suspects. Who are inmates sitting on death row and just how much do they cost taxpayers?
Coming Thursday: Since Nevada taxpayers pay the bills, you might think the state would know how much a death penalty cases costs. Not only does no one have that answer, but Gov. Brian Sandoval is preventing the public from finding out.

There are 82 men on death row in Nevada. Most are Caucasian; most are younger than 25; most have a high school education; and many got there without earlier felonies.

But what they all have in common is a pending state execution.

-- Patrick McKenna was once considered the most dangerous prisoner in Nevada after multiple escape attempts. He was involved in the 1979 siege of the City hall jail, where inmates held guards hostage.

McKenna was already in prison when he killed a cellmate, the day he was convicted on multiple rape charges. He's been on death row for 34 years.

-- Beau Maestas says a woman sold him drugs that turned out to be salt. He took a knife and attacked her daughters, killing 3-year-old Kristyanna Cowan and paralyzing 10-year-old Brittney Bergeron from the waist down.

-- Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson filed Nevada's first capital case of the year against Nathan Burkett. He is the suspect in three local strangulations dating back to the 1970s.

The cost to send a person to death row is not easy to calculate. There are many expenses from arrest to execution, beginning with the trial and then the lengthy appeal process.

The death penalty information center estimates the cost to house each one is between $50,000 and $75,000.


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