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Jury hands down death penalty for man, 24, in Las Vegas killing

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Javier Righetti made his initial appearance, in Sept. 2011, on charges of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Alyssa Otremba at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. A jury decided that Righetti should be put to death for the rape, murder and mutilation of Otremba in a crime that shocked Las Vegas for its brutality in 2011.

LAS VEGAS >> A jury in Las Vegas decided a 24-year-old man should become the youngest person on Nevada’s death row for the 2011 rape, killing and mutilation of a 15-year-old girl who had texted her mother to say she was on her way home after fetching a school book.

Javier Righetti was 19 when Alyssa Otremba disappeared and searchers found her charred body the next day in a vacant lot not far from her home in northwest Las Vegas.

His court-appointed attorney, Christy Craig, declined Wednesday to comment on the verdict, which was read late Tuesday in Clark County District Court. Craig had sought life in prison without parole, and Righetti apologized to people he acknowledged he hurt.

Righetti is due for formal sentencing in Clark County District Court on May 9 — his 25th birthday — on charges also including kidnapping, battery, robbery and sexual assault of a victim under 16 years old.

He’ll become the 83rd person on death row in Nevada, and his sentence will be automatically appealed. The last execution in Nevada was in 2006.

The slain girl’s mother, Jennifer Otremba, told reporters at the courthouse that the verdict wasn’t a win for anybody.

“Two families have been destroyed,” she said. “We have the rest of life to live without Alyssa.”

Police said Otremba was abducted, sexually assaulted, stabbed 80 times and had the letters “LV” carved in her thigh before her body was left in a tunnel. Righetti returned later to douse the corpse with gasoline and burn it into unrecognizability.

Investigators said there was no evidence that Righetti knew Otremba. He told police following his arrest he wanted to prove he could be as brutal as the most notorious Las Vegas gang member, although police said there was no evidence he was in a gang.

The same jury that decided the death sentence found Righetti guilty last week of capital murder in a retrial on an unusually narrow question of whether the slaying was premeditated.

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled last month that Righetti’s plea to the murder charge was unacceptable because he didn’t specify that it was willful, deliberate and planned. Righetti’s guilty pleas to other charges stood.

Jurors heard evidence this week that even before Otremba’s slaying, Righetti was sought in Mexico on an arrest warrant in a rape case involving his 16-year-old cousin.

Prosecutors Giancarlo Pesci and Michelle Fleck said the jury decision for death provided justice for all of Righetti’s victims.

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