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New Death Penalty Trial Set for Man in Mesquite Knife Attack

New Death Penalty Trial Set for Man in Mesquite Knife Attack

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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A second jury should decide whether a 21-year-old Utah man should be put to death for an attack that killed a little girl and left her half-sister paralyzed, a judge said Thursday.

Clark County District Judge Donald Mosley set an April 10 date for a new penalty trial for Beau Maestas, whose fate was left in limbo after a jury deadlocked 10-2 for guilt June 9.

The judge, forced to declare a mistrial four weeks ago, rejected a request from Maestas' lawyer to impose sentence Thursday.

"I'm inclined to think a jury should decide," Mosley said.

Attorney Pete Christiansen said his client could have been sentenced to life in prison, and called it unconstitutional to subject Maestas to a second penalty trial.

"It's double-jeopardy," Christiansen said after Thursday's brief court hearing. He said he intends to appeal Mosley's ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Maestas pleaded guilty May 27 to burglary, attempted murder and murder in the slaying of 3-year-old Kristyanna Cowan and stabbing her half-sister, 10-year-old Brittney Bergeron, in a trailer home parked outside a Mesquite casino. Brittney, now 13, was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Authorities say Maestas, who was 19 at the time, carried out the attack with his 16-year-old sister, Monique, in retaliation for being ripped off in a drug deal with the girls' mother and her boyfriend.

Monique Maestas, now 19, has pleaded not guilty. She faces life in prison if convicted. Mosley on Thursday set her trial for April 17.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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