Document Type

Case Summary

Publication Date


Case Synopsis

A neighbor found Betty May murdered in her room at a boarding house. An autopsy determined that May died by strangulation and suffered a traumatic sexual penetration just prior to her death. Semen and blood samples were taken from May’s body and clothing at the time of her death, and after twelve years passed, a detective ordered DNA testing of the evidence. Defendant Daryl Linnie Mack was charged with the first-degree murder of Betty May. Law enforcement obtained a blood and saliva sample from Mack at two different times during the investigation. Both the semen and the blood stains matched Mack’s DNA. Additionally, blood and tissue found under May’s fingertips matched Mack’s DNA. Mack was charged with first-degree murder with deliberation and premeditation and/or during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a sexual assault. The State sought the death penalty, alleging two aggravating circumstances: (1) Mack committed the murder while under sentence of imprisonment, and (2) he committed the murder while committing or fleeing after committing sexual assault. Prior to trial, Mack advised the court he wanted to waive his right to a jury trial and have a bench trial. The district court continued the matter on two separate occasions to allow Mack time to discuss this option with his attorney. At a subsequent hearing, Mack stated that he understood a three-judge panel would determine his sentence if he were found guilty during the bench trial, and he signed a statement confirming his decision. On appeal, Mack argued that the three-judge sentence determination violated his right to a jury trial. Mack claimed that the relevant Nevada statute2 did not give him the option of having a bench trial and a jury sentencing hearing. Additionally, Mack argued that his death sentence was excessive.