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Hamilton trial underway
by Janine Kearney
Mar 18, 2008 | 1717 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee  A pensive Tamir Hamilton watches as prospective jurors file into the court room on Monday. Hamilton on trial as he's accused in the killing of Holly Quick.
Tribune/Dan McGee A pensive Tamir Hamilton watches as prospective jurors file into the court room on Monday. Hamilton on trial as he's accused in the killing of Holly Quick.
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The death penalty trial accusing Tamir Hamilton of the rape and murder of 16-year-old Holly Quick of Sparks began on Tuesday.

Proceedings included opening statements, the presentation of dozens of photos of the victim's slashed neck and other injuries and evidence in the case, and the testimony from six witnesses, including Quick's mother, who found her daughter's body.

Washoe District Court Judge Connie Steinheimer and the jury of 12 people and four alternates heard opening statements from the District Attorney's Office and the Public Defender's Office, which is arguing that Hamilton is schizophrenic and not responsible for his actions.

The prosecution team of Deputy District Attorneys Dan Greco and Luke Prengaman as well as the Defense Team headed by Chief Deputy Public Defender Maizie Pusich, questioned the following witnesses on Monday:

• Quick's mother Patricia Doss

• Hamilton's acquaintance and coworker Dennis Smith

• Hamilton's girlfriend at the time Erin Trujillo

• Quick's older sister and Hamilton's friend Jhana Williams

• Sparks Police Sgt. Jeanmarie Walsh

• Sparks Police Det. Jason Woodard

In opening statements, Greco described the timeline of events as the crimes and investigation unfolded. He called the moment when Doss discovered her daughter's body "any parent's worst nightmare."

Doss cried and shook as she was asked to describe the night of Sept. 14, 2006. She described how she had found her daughter's body the morning of Sept. 15 in the teen's bedroom of their Harbor Cove apartment near the Sparks Marina. Quick was lying perpendicular half nude and half off the bed with a blanket covering her head the next morning, her mother testified. An autopsy concluded the teenager bled to death from a 2-inch-deep slash to her neck.

Defense showed photographs of Quick's body and her extensive wounds. Quick had a second gash in her neck and numerous cuts to her face, jaw and upper torso, including a cut on her hand that the prosecution described as a defensive wound.

“Holly did try to save her own life," Greco said.

In her opening statements, Pusich talked about the difference between mental retardation and mental illness, and that Hamilton's schizophrenia was not formally diagnosed until after he was in custody at the Washoe County Jail.

"He and Holly were friendly with each other," Pusich said. "We will prove Mr. Hamilton is not guilty by reason of insanity, because no one in his right mind would do this to his friend."

The prosecution questioned witnesses to try to establish whether Hamilton seemed to be drunk or high on drugs on the night of Quick's murder, as he had told police.

One witness, Smith — who, in an unrelated case, lost an eye in a beating incident in Oppio Park during his son's youth football league practice on Aug. 29 — testified that Hamilton was an acquaintance and fellow delivery driver for American Reddi-Mix in Reno at the time of the murder.

Smith testified that Hamilton drove him to watch his son's football game, then the two bought a 40-ounce beer at a Shell gas station mini-mart on the night of Sept. 14. Smith said they shared the beer, then Hamilton left Smith's house at about 9:45 p.m. and did not appear to be drunk, and neither had taken marijuana or cocaine, as they had reportedly done on previous occasions.

Quick's sister, Williams, testified that Hamilton was a good friend, was the godfather of her oldest son and was a friend of the family's. Williams testified that Hamilton had called her twice on the night of the murder and did not seem to be drunk or high at the time.

Williams and Hamilton's girlfriend Trujillo testified that Hamilton cried and was very upset when Williams told him of Quick's murder — so much so, that Hamilton was asked to be a pallbearer at Quick's funeral.

Trujillo also testified that she, Hamilton and her two children were renting a home at the time in Sparks, and that they had fought after he didn't return home until about 11:40 p.m. She also recalled that Hamilton had specifically asked her a week later if it was trash day. During the course of the investigation, several pieces of clothing found in Hamilton's garbage contained DNA evidence from Quick.

Det. Woodard described blood stains and DNA evidence found in Quick's bedroom, as well as blood stains on an outside breezeway near Doss and Quick's apartment.

Steinheimer continued the prosecution's initial questioning of Det. Woodard to Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

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