LAS VEGAS (AP) — A jury decided Wednesday that a 29-year-old self-styled pimp should be sentenced to death for killing three people by opening fire into a moving vehicle after a dispute at a hip-hop event at a posh Las Vegas Strip resort.
Ammar Asim Faruq Harris wasn’t in the courtroom when the verdict was read in Clark County District Court. Several relatives and friends of the victims jumped, sobbed and hugged.
“Oh!” Shanna Cherry, cousin of Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., exclaimed before Judge Kathleen Delaney warned the audience there would be no more outbursts.
The jury deliberated about two hours after a two-day penalty hearing that Harris chose not to attend. The same jury took less than 20 minutes Oct. 26 to find Harris guilty of first-degree murder, attempted murder and weapon charges after a week of testimony in the February 2013 vehicle-to-vehicle shooting and fireball crash.
The judge set formal sentencing for Jan. 4.
Defense attorney Robert Langford stopped short of predicting success, but he noted the sentence will be automatically appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. It won’t change Harris’ housing, because he’s already held at Ely State Prison, the state’s most secure facility and home of death row.
“It’s a long process between now and his execution,” Langford said. “Death penalty cases always get the strictest scrutiny, and I’ve seen cleaner death penalty cases overturned.”
Harris is housed at Ely State Prison — serving 16 years to life for raping and robbing an 18-year-old woman in Las Vegas in 2010, although the case is also being appealed to the state Supreme Court. He is serving an additional five years after pleading guilty this year to masterminding a scheme to smuggle items into prison.
Video recorded Harris’ black Range Rover jockeying for position with a Maserati in a tire-squealing chase on neon-lit Las Vegas Boulevard, and the sound of gunshots from the SUV before the sports car accelerated through a red light and slammed into a taxi that ignited in flames in front of the Caesars Palace and Flamingo resorts.
Cherry was mortally wounded driving the Maserati. A passenger, Freddy Walters, was wounded. Cab driver Michael Boldon and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund of Maple Valley, Washington, perished in the flaming taxi.
At least five other vehicles were damaged in chain-reaction crashes.
Separate cameras caught the Range Rover speeding away in the night.
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