from a judgment of conviction, pursuant to a jury verdict, of
second-degree murder. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark
County; J. Charles Thompson, Senior Judge.
Gentile Cristalli Miller Armeni Savarese and Vincent Savarese
III, Las Vegas, for Appellant.
Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Carson City; Steven B.
Wolfson, District Attorney, Steven S. Owens, Chief Deputy
District Attorney, and Binu G. Palal, Deputy District
Attorney, Clark County, for Respondent.
DOUGLAS, GIBBONS and PICKERING, JJ.
appeal, we consider whether the district court abused its
discretion in denying appellant's motion for a mistrial
based on prosecutorial misconduct and his motion for a new
trial based on juror misconduct, and whether the district
court abused its discretion in declining to provide the jury
with a supplemental clarifying instruction on malice
aforethought. We conclude that appellant failed to establish
any prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct and that
appellant's trial counsel failed to adequately develop
the record to assess whether he was prejudiced by juror
misconduct. We further conclude that because the instructions
on malice given to the jury were correct and appellant failed
to indicate what supplemental clarifying instruction the
district court should have provided, appellant fails to
demonstrate error. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of
this opportunity to provide guidance on two recent cases.
First, we provide guidance on the applicability of Bowman
v. State, 132 Nev., Adv. Op. 74, 387 P.3d 202 (2016),
regarding the district court's duty to instruct the jury
not to conduct independent research or investigation. Second,
we provide guidance on the scope of Gonzalez v.
State, 131 Nev., Adv. Op. 99, 366 P.3d 680 (2015),
concerning the district court's duty to provide
additional instruction when a jury's questions during
deliberations suggest confusion or lack of understanding of
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
October 22, 2011, appellant Michael Jeffries invited a few
guests to his house in Las Vegas, including his longtime
friend, Eric Gore. Jeffries' then live-in girlfriend
Mandy and her 13-year-old daughter Brittany were also present
at the house that entire evening. Both Jeffries and Gore were
intoxicated when Gore became angry with one of the guests.
Jeffries took Gore outside in an effort to calm him down. The
two then returned to the house and continued to drink, but
Gore was still upset. The other guests left as a result, but
Gore refused to leave. An altercation ensued, which prompted
Jeffries to retrieve his gun from under the mattress in his
bedroom. As Jeffries exited his bedroom, an unarmed Gore
approached, and Jeffries fatally shot him once in the heart
from a distance of 2 to 3 feet.
only other eyewitness to the shooting, Brittany, recounted
the details of that night in statements to police and
testimony at the preliminary hearing. Her statements and
testimony discredited the defense theory that Gore ran
aggressively toward Jeffries before Jeffries shot him in
self-defense. When the State called Brittany as its first
witness at trial, she could not remember many of the details
she previously recounted. In the State's rebuttal closing
argument, the prosecutor suggested that Jeffries might have
indirectly influenced Brittany's trial testimony and made
statements regarding her credibility. On this basis, Jeffries
objected and later moved for a mistrial. The district court
denied Jeffries' motion.
deliberations, the district court received three questions
from the jury presented in two notes. The first note
indicated that a juror had conducted outside research, which
prompted the district court to reinstruct the jury pursuant
to both parties' request. The second note inquired about
the jury instructions; however, the district court did not
provide a supplemental clarifying instruction.
the jury returned a verdict of guilty of second-degree
murder. Jeffries filed a motion for a new trial, which the
district court denied. The court then sentenced Jeffries to
serve a prison term of 10 years to life for the murder and a
consecutive prison term of 1-6 years for the deadly weapon
enhancement. Jeffries now appeals from the judgment of
argues that the district court erred by denying his motion
for a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct. Jeffries
contends that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct by
vouching for Brittany and arguing that Jeffries influenced
Brittany's testimony at trial. Conversely, the State
argues that Jeffries raises his vouching argument for the
first time on appeal and that this claim does not constitute
reversible plain error. The State further denies that its
argument concerning Jeffries' influence on Brittany's
trial testimony amounted to prosecutorial misconduct because
its rebuttal closing argument was appropriate based on the
evidence and a proper response to ...