Death penalty not option in Fiegehen case; defense explores judges’ conflict | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Death penalty not option in Fiegehen case; defense explores judges’ conflict

Regina Purcell, Tribune News Service

The Douglas County District Attorney’s office has decided not to seek the death penalty against Christopher Fiegehen, 23.

Fiegehen is charged with the early-morning Feb. 10 assault on Johnson Lane residents Alan and Lorelle Chorkey. Alan Chorkey died from fatal stab wounds to his carotid artery and jugular vein; and Lorelle Chorkey was critically injured with two .357 gunshot wounds, one at the back of her head and one in her chest. Lorelle Chorkey reportedly named Fiegehen as her attacker as she entered an operating room for surgery on her wounds.

Fiegehen is charged with murder, attempted murder, home invasion and burglary.

Prosecutor Mark Jackson said the district attorney’s office will not pursue the death penalty because of a similar case being reviewed at the Nevada Supreme Court about aggravating circumstances in a home invasion, and the remote possibility that Lorelle Chorkey will die from her wounds.

Tuesday’s arraignment of Fiegehen in Douglas District Court was continued to Aug. 6 so the defense attorney can explore a possible conflict with Judge David R. Gamble, who is assigned to the case.

East Fork Justice Court Judge Jim EnEarl bound Fiegehen over for trial following a day-long preliminary hearing June 27.

Preliminary hearings are conducted to establish whether there is enough evidence to put a suspect on trial.

Fiegehen’s attorney Richard Young had previously sought to remove EnEarl from the preliminary hearing because he had signed some of the arrest and search warrants issued against Fiegehen.

Gamble made a similar disclosure Tuesday, saying he had issued some warrants and signed affidavits. In addition, he disclosed that his eldest daughter had been in a high-school class with Fiegehen and his younger daughter had played soccer with Fiegehen.

“I don’t believe it has an impact on me to hear the case,” said Gamble.

Young sought the continuance.

“We will explore if (Gamble’s previous involvement with Fiegehen warrants) result in a legally disqualifying factor,” said Young. “And some concern rises with his daughters. I don’t know what they talked to (Gamble) about.”

The courtroom was filled with members of the Fiegehen and Chorkey families, including Lorelle Chorkey, looking frail and relying on a cane for stability. She was surrounded by friends and would not comment on the case.

Previous testimony disclosed that Fiegehen’s DNA was on a hat found under the mortally wounded Chorkey. And DNA on the handle of a Harley-Davidson knife found stuck in the deck near Chorkey’s body couldn’t be excluded as being Fiegehen’s.

In addition, Chorkey’s blood was found in three places in Fiegehen’s 1999 Ford Mustang.

Fiegehen is being held in the Douglas County Jail without bond. He was noticeably limping on his right leg Tuesday. A security guard said Fiegehen was injured playing basketball in jail. Fiegehen’s attorney said he did not notice the limp, or did he know the origin of why his client was limping.


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