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Death Penalty: Yes
Valley of Fire State Park. Photo by Jackie Royall.
Nevada was the first state in the United States to use the gas chamber, and executed 32 men with that method from 1924-1979. All executions in Nevada since 1979 have been carried out by lethal injection.
In 1924, the use of cyanide gas was introduced, as Nevada sought a more humane way of executing its inmates. Gee Jon was the first person in the United States executed by lethal gas. The state tried to pump cyanide gas into Jon's cell while he slept, but this proved impossible, and the gas chamber was constructed.
In 2010, Ronnie Milligan was released from prison after 20 years on death row. Doubts concerning Milligan’s guilt were also raised after a letter written by an eyewitness at his trial, Ramon Houston, was discovered. In the letter, Houston indicated that he killed the victim. The letter also disclosed that Milligan, who testified at his trial that he was in an alcoholic blackout at the time of the crime, was not even at the scene when the victim was killed. Another co-defendant signed an affidavit saying that Milligan was not present during the killing, and that everybody involved conspired against him when they learned he had no memory of that day. Expressing “grave reservations” about Milligan’s guilt, District Judge Richard Wagner sentenced Milligan to a term of life with the possibility of parole and determined that Milligan was immediately eligible for parole.
Roberto Miranda spent 14 years on death row before his conviction was reversed. A witness, Fernando Cabrera, claimed he drove with Miranda to Manuel Rodriguez Torres' house and waited outside. Cabrera had motive to frame Miranda because Miranda was having an affair with his girlfriend. At trial, Miranda had been represented by an attorney with one year's experience who had inherited the case when his colleague died. In overturning his conviction, Clark County Senior District Judge Norman Robison wrote: "The lack of pretrial preparation by trial counsel . . . cannot be justified."
In 1913, Nevada invented an "automated firing squad" comprised of three rifles mounted on an iron frame that fired simultaneously. It was used once, in the execution of Andriza Mircovich.
The last inmates at Nevada State Prison were removed in January, 2012, but the state's execution chamber remains there.