Nissensohn murder case languishes | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Nissensohn murder case languishes

Adam Jensen
ajensen@tahoedailytribune.com

After more than four years in the court system, the trial of alleged serial killer Joseph Nissensohn could be more than a year away, according to recent court filings.

The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office charged Nissensohn with the 1989 murder of South Lake Tahoe 15-year-old Kathy Graves in January 2008. The 1981 killings of teenagers Tanya Jones and Tammy Jarshke in Monterey County were added to the criminal complaint in October of that year.

In November, attorneys Hayes Gable III and Peter Kmeto replaced Tom Wirtz and Mark Millard as defense counsel following a request from Nissensohn.

And in a status report last month, Gable and Kmeto detailed numerous items that need to be completed before the case is ready to go to trial.

Organizing more than 9,000 pages of discovery into a searchable database, locating witnesses flung far across the country and finding missing interviews will all take time, according to the report.

Gable and Kmeto also contend that a recently uncovered box of evidence regarding an investigation of key witness Cheryl Rose by Nissensohn’s defense in a Washington state case will also take an undetermined amount of time to analyze.

Rose testified against Nissensohn, her former husband, in the 1989 stabbing of Sally Jo Tsaggaris. Nissensohn was convicted of 2nd degree murder in the killing of Tsaggaris in 1991.

The defense’s case file in the El Dorado and Monterey county slayings will not be completely organized until late 2013, according to the status report.

“Not only has the disorganization of the prior defense team hampered this attempt, but it also appears that the prosecution has either never acquired or never discovered a significant portion of the discovery,” the defense attorneys stated in the report.

El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Dale Gomes expressed frustration with the pace of the case in response to the defense team’s most recent status report.

“We are beginning the seventh month (November, December, January, February, March, April and now May) of the Kmeto/Gable era of the Nissensohn defense, and based upon their first two status reports, we are farther away from a trial on this case then we have ever been before,” Gomes said in a May 2 filing.

The length of time requested for the organizational matters is “not acceptable,” Gomes said, suggesting a single attorney could have the case ready to go to trial in six months. He has asked El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Suzanne Kingsbury to schedule the trial within the next year.

A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday in South Lake Tahoe. Nissensohn is being held in El Dorado County Jail in Placerville without bail. He could face the death penalty if convicted.


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