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Death penalty possible in Vegas hatchet slaying

  • Maria Gutierrez, 33, of Idaho. Gutierrez and her brother, 22-year-old Hector Gutierrez of California, face charges of murder with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit murder. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP)

LAS VEGAS » An Idaho woman and her brother from California could face the death penalty in the hatchet slaying of the woman’s husband this week in Las Vegas, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Maria Olga Hernandez, 33, of Burley, Idaho, and Hector Trinidad Gutierrez, 22, of Visalia, California, made initial court appearances on felony murder and conspiracy charges in the late Monday slaying of 43-year-old Enrique Gil Hernandez outside a vehicle several miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.

Outside court, prosecutor Frank Coumou said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and several prosecutors will make a decision in coming weeks whether to seek capital punishment.

Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman appointed a public defender to Hernandez’s case and a lawyer to represent Gutierrez, and scheduled another hearing Friday with attorneys present to set a preliminary hearing date.

Maria Hernandez is also referred to in documents as Maria Gutierrez. Las Vegas police said in an arrest report that she might have held her husband’s arms while Hector Gutierrez hacked at his head and neck with the hatchet.

Hector Gutierrez told police he lives in Las Vegas. He was treated at a hospital for stab wounds to the torso that he told police he got when Enrique Hernandez pulled a knife after he was first hit in the head.

The brother also told police said the motive for the attack was that Enrique Hernandez learned that Maria Hernandez had an extramarital affair, hired someone to beat up her boyfriend and threatened to take their four children away from her.

Police said Enrique Hernandez’s head was nearly severed.

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