A Guatemalan man convicted of conspiring to plant a bomb in the Luxor Casino parking garage in 2007 has once again been found guilty of crimes including murder after a retrial in Las Vegas.
As they had at the original trial, prosecutors argued Omar Rueda-Denvers, 45, wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend, Caren Chali, and her new boyfriend, Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio, because he was jealous of their relationship.
At around 4 a.m. on May 7, 2007, a pipe bomb hidden in a plastic foam coffee cup that had been placed on top of Antonio’s Dodge Sedan exploded, killing Antonio. Chali, who had been with him at the time, was uninjured. The pair worked together at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs stand at the Luxor.
Prosecutors said Rueda-Denvers’s friend, Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, built and planted the bomb. In 2009, both men were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
They were found guilty of one count each of murder with use of a deadly weapon and attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, as well as possession and transportation of an explosive. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty.
‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’
But Rueda-Denvers was granted a new trial in 2019 because he had not been able to cross-examine his co-defendant, who had given incriminating evidence to police.
Rueda-Denvers’ lawyer, Christopher Oram, claimed his client was had been following Chali because she was keeping him from seeing the daughter they had together and was simply “in the wrong place, wrong time.” On Friday, he called Duarte-Herrera a “weirdo” who had a history of bombmaking, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Duarte-Herrera was also found guilty of planting a bomb outside a Las Vegas Home Depot on Halloween 2006, which blasted shards of metal over a wide area into a busy street. Prosecutors in that case said it was “incredibly lucky” no one was injured or killed.
During the retrial jurors were shown harrowing images taken at the scene of the explosion. They also watched surveillance footage of a silver Chevrolet Cobalt drive around the parking garage and stop next to Antonio’s car, before Duarte-Herrera placed the bomb on top.
Rueda-Denvers was the “one common thread” that linked all these things together, Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Hamner said.
Jurors on Friday took around five hours to once again find Rueda-Denvers guilty of all charges.
“What this man did to these people and even the city was terrifying,” Hamner said, as reported by the Review-Journal. “We’re glad that once again he’s being held accountable for what he did, which was cold-blooded murder.”
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