POSTED: 01:03 p.m. HST, Dec 17, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 05:14 p.m. HST, Dec 17, 2013
LAS VEGAS >> A self-described exchange student from Latvia was being held on a murder charge today after a fight that left another man fatally injured in a 20th-floor room at an off-Strip casino, police said.
Matejs Balodis, 22, told Las Vegas police who arrested him at the South Point Casino Hotel and Spa around 6:30 p.m. Monday that he beat the man unconscious after the man tried to rob him.
The injured man, Sherman Dale Lamb, 55, was found unconscious with bloody face and head injuries, according to a police report. He died a short time later at a hospital.
Balodis provided an address in Riga, Latvia, and told police he was an exchange student from Denmark who completed studies in Texas and was on his way back to Europe when he met Lamb during a layover in Las Vegas.
He said he accompanied Lamb to the hotel just south of the Las Vegas Strip after his flight to New York was canceled.
Hotel owner Michael Gaughan told The Associated Press that Balodis and Lamb arrived on an airport shuttle van and checked in together a little before 9 a.m. Monday. Gaughan said their movements in the hotel were recorded on security videotape that police obtained as evidence. The video was not made public.
"They went up the elevator together, they went to dinner together and went back up the elevator together," Gaughan said.
Balodis later told security officers he was trained in martial arts, Gaughan added.
During police questioning, Balodis told police that Lamb wanted his money, credit card and personal information.
He told detectives that Lamb attacked him, that he struck Lamb several times in the head and face, and that he called hotel security and police after Lamb fell unconscious.
Balodis was being held without bail at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas pending an initial court appearance at which he is expected to be appointed an attorney.
Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn said his office had not been contacted about Balodis, and it wasn't immediately known if Latvian consular officials were aware of the arrest.