For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks announces that a Reno man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a June, 2014 murder. This sentence marks the outcome of the murder prosecution of Zollie Dumas, 63, from Reno, who was convicted by a jury in September of 1st degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon. Dumas had been accused of the stabbing death of his 59 year old live-in girlfriend at the Lucky Motel in Downtown Reno. At the time, Dumas was on parole for a prior 1988 murder conviction in Clark County, Nevada. In the 1988 case, Dumas pled guilty to 2nd degree murder for having killed his then girlfriend by stabbing her 24 times.
Sentencing took place this morning in Department 3, Washoe County District Court before Judge Jerome Polaha. Chief Deputy District Attorney Luke Prengaman argued that the only just sentence was life without the possibility of parole given the brutality of the murder and Dumas’s history. Dumas was also sentenced to an additional 20 years for the deadly weapon enhancement.
Original Case Facts:
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 in the neck, torso and head 22 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.