3 charged in 1998 skinhead killings outside Vegas
By KEN RITTER
LAS VEGAS -- Three people identified as white supremacists were indicted Wednesday on capital murder and weapons charges in what a federal prosecutor described as execution-style ambush slayings of two skinhead group members who advocated racial tolerance.
Authorities said an investigation that took more than 13 years led to the charges against Melissa Hack and her brother Ross Hack, who could face the death penalty if convicted. A third person, Leland Jones, faces charges including aiding and abetting a crime of violence and committing a crime on federal land.
Jones was 17 at the time of the killings on Independence Day weekend 1998, so he could face a maximum of life in prison without parole if convicted.
Melissa Hack, 35, and Jones, now 31, pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carl Hoffman, who ordered both held in federal custody pending trial in May.
Ross Hack, 40, is serving time at a federal prison in Arizona on an unrelated federal passport fraud conviction. His appearance date wasn't immediately set.
The slayings of Lin Newborn, 24, and his friend and Air Force member, Daniel Shersty, 20, drew national attention on a subculture of moderates within a group usually considered extremist and united by hatred of non-whites.
Bliss said prosecutors will show that the Hack siblings and Jones were affiliated with a neo-Nazi white supremacist group when they committed what she termed as a "deliberate, premeditated, heinous" double-homicide involving two handguns and a shotgun and "driven by racial hatred."
One of the men was left wounded "to linger and die," Bliss told the judge, while the other was chased across the desert and shot to death.
Attorneys Brent Bryson and Gabriel Grasso, representing Melissa Hack, and James Hartsell for Jones, tried to convince the judge to let their clients remain free pending trial. Hoffman deemed them a flight risk and a threat to the community.
The lawyers declined to comment outside the courtroom.
Melissa Hack was the girlfriend of white supremacist John "Polar Bear" Butler, a former leader of the Independent Nazi Skins and the only person previously charged in the case.
Butler, now 40, was convicted in state court in 2001 of murder and other charges, and was initially sentenced to death. His sentence was later reduced, and he is serving a life without parole in at a state prison in Indian Springs, about 45 miles north of Las Vegas.
Shersty, who was white, was from Lake Mary, Fla., and was stationed at Nellis Air Force near Las Vegas. Newborn, who was black, was a body piercing artist in Las Vegas. Prosecutors say they belonged to a group known as the Anti-Racist Action Group, sometimes dubbed Skinheads against Racial Prejudice.
Bliss said the two were lured by Melissa Hack and another woman into the desert on a ruse and shot dead by Butler, Ross Hack and Jones the night before their bodies were found on July 4, 1998, federal land north of Las Vegas.
14 years... Holy Shit Ballz. Doesn't seem that long ago at all, but thinking about it now, it seems like a whole different time and place for a whole different world I used to live in. Revenge is a Dish that is Best served cold. If you don't believe in Karma, than maybe you should re-evaluate your Beliefs. Fuck these pieces of shit. I hope they all get the chair, or lethal injection, or at least a long, miserable life full of suffering, misery and strife behind bars. Spit and I butted heads on all sorts of things, mostly Egos and Punk Rock related, but what happened to him has never sat well with me. I don't know if him and Danny are finally getting Justice, but it's nice to see that some of those responsible are getting what's coming to them. That thought makes me break out into a big ass grin. Maybe now Spit and Danny can finally rest in peace. Lord knows they deserve at least that.