For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has announced the results of a murder trial that concluded Tuesday evening with a guilty verdict. The prosecution stemmed from a February, 2015 murder investigation by the Reno Police Department (RPD) that involved the beating death of a 57 years old Reno man inside his Carville Drive Apartment. Jamelle Lee Russell, 29 (4/19/89) from Las Vegas, was found guilty of 1st Degree Murder with the Use of a Deadly Weapon after a 7 day trial in Washoe County District Court. Russell will be sentenced on September 26, 2018 and faces up to life in prison, with an additional 1-20 year term for a deadly weapon enhancement.
The case against Russell began on February 7, 2015 when the Reno Police Department (RPD) responded to a report of a burglary in progress at a Carville Drive Apartment in Northeast Reno. When RPD patrol officers arrived, they entered the apartment of Steven Arnold, 57, and found him deceased from significant head trauma. Officers also found the apartment in disarray from an apparent struggle and robbery. RPD Robbery Homicide Unit (RHU) detectives were called to the scene and began an investigation. RHU detectives were able to locate video surveillance footage from a neighboring apartment complex that showed the suspect in the vicinity of the victim’s back window smoking and discarding a cigarette. The cigarette butt was located and collected as evidence, and DNA testing conducted by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Unit positively identified Russell, whose DNA was in the nationwide CODIS database from a prior felony child abuse conviction. After further investigation, detectives located Russell two days later in Fallon as he was attempting to flee the area by bus en route to Las Vegas. Russell was arrested and this office filed open murder charges against him. Russell pled not guilty to the charge and the case proceeded to trial.
During trial, Chief Deputy District Attorney Luke Prengaman presented evidence of Russell’s guilt, including evidence that Russell had “selfie” photographs on his cellular phone showing him wearing a distinctive jacket that matched the one worn by the suspect in the surveillance video.