An intruder entered a residence, killed one person and shot another. The victim placed a 911 call, but within minutes, the 911 connection went dead. Sheriff's deputies arrived at the residence shortly thereafter and found one victim alive, lying on the floor in a pool of blood. The telephone line nearby had been cut. A body was discovered on a deck outside. Evidence implicated Christopher Fiegehen as the primary suspect. However, he abruptly fled Nevada on the day of the crime. Two months later, he was stopped and questioned by police officers in Indiana, where they apprehended him after a routine check revealed an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Nevada for homicide. Fiegehen eventually returned to Nevada to face criminal charges. The State charged Fiegehen with murder with the use of a deadly weapon, attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, and home invasion while in possession of a deadly weapon. The State alleged that Fiegehen committed the murder: (1) with malice aforethought by means of a willful, deliberate and premeditated killing; (2) in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a burglary; or (3) in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a home invasion. Fiegehen waived his right to a separate penalty hearing and agreed to have the sentence imposed by the district court, if the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. The State presented overwhelming evidence establishing that Fiegehen was the assailant. The jury instructions advised the jury only on the State's three alternative theories of first-degree murder and contained no mention of second-degree murder. The jury was further instructed: All verdicts returned in this case must be unanimous. In considering Count I, murder with the use of a deadly weapon, the State has alleged three alternative theories of first-degree murder. You do not have to agree on the theory of murder in the first degree, it is sufficient that each of you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder, under any one of the three theories, was murder of the first degree. The jury found Fiegehen guilty of "murder with the use of a deadly weapon, a category A felony."2 The jury also found Fiegehen guilty of attempted murder with the use of a firearm, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, and invasion of the home while in possession of a deadly weapon. The jury was polled, and all of the jurors confirmed that they were in agreement with the verdicts. Fiegehen did not object to or further discuss the verdict at that time. Later, defense counsel orally requested the district court to declare the verdict on the murder count void because it failed to designate the degree of murder. The district court denied the motion, basing its decision on the totality of the circumstances. The district court then sentenced Fiegehen to two consecutive terms of life in the Nevada State Prison without the possibility of parole for murder, a sentence consistent with a finding of first-degree murder. Fiegehen appealed. The Nevada Supreme Court held that the jury's failure to designate in its verdict the degree of murder did not render the verdict void. The verdict satisfied the requirements of NRS 200.030(3) because the jury's separate findings of guilt on the charges of murder, burglary, and home invasion together established a finding of firstdegree felony murder as a matter of law. The Nevada Supreme Court confirmed Fiegehen’s conviction in its entirety.
Shalmy, Michael, "Summary of Fiegehen v. State, 121 Nev. Adv. Op. 30" (2005). Nevada Supreme Court Summaries. 595.