For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks announced that Katherine Fletcher, age 40, has been convicted of First Degree Murder with a Deadly Weapon after a weeklong jury trial that ended last Friday in District Court. Sentencing is set for April 9, 2020 and Fletcher faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole and up to 20 years, for the firearm enhancement.
The case against Fletcher began on July 28, 2016 when the Reno Police Department’s Robbery Homicide Unit (RHU) was called to investigate a report that a man had been shot at Oxbow Nature Park. Officers discovered the victim, Robert Trask, unresponsive on the observation deck of the park and observed a single gunshot wound to his upper back. He was transported to Renown Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries. A single shell casing was found within a few feet of the shooting scene. RHU detectives interviewed a witness who had heard the gunshot, turned and saw a woman fleeing the scene, pulling a young boy by the hand. Officers quickly identified Katherine Fletcher as a suspect. Detectives learned that Fletcher and the victim had been in a protracted custody dispute resulting in Fletcher having very limited custody rights. The child, aged 8, was identified as the subject of the custody dispute. During the custody dispute Fletcher had made numerous and repeated false allegations of abuse against the victim to try to regain custody rights. On the night of the shooting, Fletcher and the victim met at Oxbow Park. After nearly an hour, Fletcher shot the victim in the back, with the child witnessing the shooting. In a police interview, Fletcher claimed not to know how the victim was shot and denied being the shooter. The child told police that his mother claimed a man shot from the bushes. RHU detectives later learned that Fletcher had purchased a pistol in the weeks before the murder and went target shooting. Despite exhaustive searches, the firearm was never recovered. Ballistics evidence showed the shell casing to be a Hornady Critical Duty hollow point round and the bullet from the victim’s chest to be consistent with that round. The investigation also revealed that Fletcher had a prior conviction for child neglect and for burglary in possession of a firearm. Fletcher was arrested and this office filed open murder charges against her.
At trial, Deputy District Attorney Amos Stege argued that Fletcher was motivated by losing custody rights and that shooting the victim in the back and hiding the gun showed the killing was premeditated. During trial, the child had to recount the traumatic night of the shooting and DDA Stege noted the boy’s bravery when testifying.