March 1, 2021
Carson City, NV - Nevada
Attorney General Aaron D. Ford is pleased to announce that the Eighth Judicial
District Court granted Frederick Steese a Certificate of Innocence and court
approval for an award of $1,350,000.00 from the State of Nevada as compensation
for the 18 years Steese spent in prison following his wrongful conviction.
Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Jasmine Lilly-Spells entered stipulated
orders on March 1, 2021, which AG Ford fully supported.
"As attorney general, my job
is justice, and I'm thrilled that Mr. Steese has been declared an innocent
man,” said AG Ford. “While no amount
of money can ever replace our freedom, Mr. Steese will be compensated for the
years he has lost. I want to thank the attorneys in my office who have worked
tirelessly on this case. Your work means so much in the eyes of Nevadans."
In 1992, Steese was arrested for
the murder of his friend, Las Vegas performer Gerard Soules. Nearly three years
later, despite extensive alibi evidence placing him in a different state at the
time of the murder, Steese was convicted by the State of Nevada of Murder with
Use of a Deadly Weapon, Robbery with Use of a Deadly Weapon, Burglary, and
Grand Larceny Auto.
In 2012, following extensive
evidentiary hearings, the Eighth Judicial District Court granted Steese’s
post-conviction petition for writ of habeas corpus, finding that Steese was
actually innocent. The State agreed to permit Steese to enter a nolo
contendere plea to reduced charges of second-degree murder. Steese was released
on a time-served sentence on February 28, 2013. In 2017, Steese received
a full, unconditional pardon from the State of Nevada Board of Pardons
Commissioners based on his actual innocence.
2019, the Nevada Legislature adopted Assembly Bill 267 – codified in NRS 41.900
et seq. – to compensate persons who have been wrongfully incarcerated if
they can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they did not commit
the crime for which they were convicted, were not an accomplice, and did not
otherwise cause their own conviction. Additional costs, including reasonable
attorney fees, educational expenses, counseling services and certain other
reimbursements are also permitted. Steese is the fourth person in Nevada to
receive a Certificate of Innocence under this new statute.
matter was handled by the Attorney General’s Post-Conviction Unit by Chief
Deputy Attorney General Heather Procter, Deputy Attorney General Jaimie Stilz,
and Deputy Attorney General Sheryl Serreze.