Guilty Verdict in Murder Trial
Washoe County District Attorney Announces Reno Man Found Guilty of 1st Degree Murder

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)

Additional Details Related To Recent Murder Conviction

September 16, 2016

Reno, Nevada

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks announced yesterday the verdict in a murder trial that began Monday.  The defendant in the case was found guilty of 1st degree murder with the use of a deadly, weapon stemming from the June 15, 2014 stabbing death of his live-in girlfriend, a 59 year old Reno woman. The stabbing occurred at the Lucky Motel in Downtown Reno and additional details about the case are provided below.     

Zollie Dumas 63 from Reno was found guilty of one count of 1st Degree Murder with the Use of a Deadly Weapon in District Court after a four day trial that ended Thursday.  The jury deliberated approximately four hours before convicting Dumas, who now faces a maximum prison sentence of 50 years or life with or without parole.

On June 15, 2014, Emergency Dispatch received a 911 call from a cell phone, in which a female was heard yelling in the background before the call disconnected. The call indicated a possible domestic dispute and a Reno Police Department (RPD) Sergeant placed a return call to the number and reached a female who was later identified as Carolyn Jo Smith.  Smith was heard yelling at someone in the background to leave her alone and was able to tell the sergeant where she lived and that she needed police assistance.  RPD patrol officers were dispatched and the sergeant remained on the line with Smith, who had become silent.  When officers arrived they went to Smith’s motel room and knocked on the window.  While approaching the room, the officers had been able to see thru the window and observed a male, later identified as Dumas, seated inside the room.  Dumas answered the door and told the officers, “just take me to jail, I killed her.” At that point, Dumas was immediately detained and the officers discovered Smith lying on the bed with apparent stab wounds to the right side of her upper body.  The officers summoned REMSA to the scene, but Smith was pronounced dead shortly after their arrival.  

Detectives with the Reno Police Department Robbery Homicide Unit took over the scene and began an investigation into the circumstances of Smith’s death and Dumas’ involvement.   Detectives learned that Smith and Dumas had been living at the motel for four months and neighbors had heard the couple arguing on the day of the stabbing.  A subsequent search of the room located a knife that was later identified as the weapon Dumas used to stab Smith. Detectives also learned that Dumas was on parole for a prior 1988 murder conviction in Clark County, Nevada.  In that case, Dumas pled guilty to 2nd degree murder for having killed his then girlfriend by stabbing her 24 times.  Based on the evidence, interviews with witnesses and the defendant’s statements, detectives arrested Dumas for murdering Smith and this office subsequently charged him with open murder.

During trial, Chief Deputy District Attorney (CDDA) Luke Prengaman introduced evidence of Dumas having stabbed Smith in the neck, torso and head 22 times.  Testimony from the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office showed the victim had suffered extensive internal injuries and defensive wounds to her hands.  The RPD sergeant who had been on the phone with Smith testified that he heard the victim repeatedly screaming for the defendant to “get out, just get out of here” over and over, until he heard her say “okay, okay” and then go silent. He described her as sounding scared.                   

Dumas is set for sentencing on November 15, 2016 in Department 3 of Washoe County District Court


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