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Watters v. State

Supreme Court of Nevada

November 27, 2013

Frankie Alan WATTERS, Appellant,
v.
The STATE of Nevada, Respondent.

Page 244

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 245

Philip J. Kohn, Public Defender, and Audrey M. Conway, Deputy Public Defender, Clark County, for Appellant.

Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B. Wolfson, District Attorney, and Nancy A. Becker, Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, for Respondent.

Before the Court En Banc.

OPINION

PICKERING, C.J.:

We consider whether the State's use of a PowerPoint during opening statement that includes a slide of the defendant's booking photo with the word " GUILTY" superimposed across it constitutes improper advocacy and undermines the presumption of innocence essential to a fair trial.[1]

I.

Frankie Alan Watters was charged with and convicted of possession of a stolen vehicle, grand larceny of a vehicle, and failure to stop on the signal of a police officer. The charges grew out of a crime spree in which Watters allegedly stole a car, got in a wreck, fled, stole another car, became involved in a high-speed chase, ditched the second car, ran into a store, and was finally arrested after being knocked to the ground and bitten several times in the leg by a police dog.

At trial, the State used a PowerPoint to support its opening statement to the jury. The presentation included a slide showing Watters's booking photo with the word " GUILTY" written across his battered face.

(Image Omitted)

Page 246

Figure 1. Prosecutor's opening statement ...


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