Gambling-Related Crime Roundup: Supreme Court Reinstates Death Penalty for 1994 Murder

  • An appeals court originally vacated George Kayer’s death sentence
  • Enoch Jeremy Spina sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl at Harrah’s Laughlin in 1995
  • A front desk employee stole $315,000 from Fortune Bay Resort & Casino in Minnesota
  • A man was arrested for drug possession and stolen credit cards at a Carson City casino
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This week has been filled with gambling and casino-related crime news, including the U.S. Supreme Court reinstating the federal death penalty of a man convicted of a 1994 murder. [Image:]

Murderer returns to death row

Several casino and gambling-related criminal cases have made the headlines around the United States this week. The grisliest of them dates back 26 years, when George Kayer killed Delbert Haas and was later found guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, burglary, trafficking stolen property, and theft. Kayer was later sentenced to death.

Kayer borrowed money from Haas and lost it gambling.

Kayer went on a gambling trip to Laughlin, Nevada with Haas and Lisa Kester in late 1994. Kayer borrowed money from Haas and lost it gambling. Later on, Kayer drove the trio to a secluded area and when Haas got out of the car, Kayer shot him in the head, dragged his body to the bushes, and stole his wallet and other belongings. He eventually returned to the scene to retrieve Haas’s house keys and shot him again to ensure he was dead. Ten days later, Kester reported the murder to police.

Last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the death penalty sentence, ruling that Kayer did not have effective counsel and that his mental health issues were not considered in his sentence. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the original death sentence.

The Trump administration has been sharply criticized of late, as it resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus. Ten federal inmates have been put to death this year and two more executions are scheduled for January. Around 40 members of Congress have called on President-elect Joe Biden to abolish the death penalty immediately upon taking office.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to reinstate Kayer’s sentence. All six Conservative justices made up the majority, three of whom are Trump appointments.

1995 Sexual assault at Harrah’s Laughlin

On Sunday, Las Vegas police arrested Enoch Jeremy Spina for a crime he committed a quarter century ago. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in May 1995, a 17-year-old girl reported that she was sexually assaulted by a man in a room at Harrah’s Laughlin. She had attended a high school graduation party at the hotel and believes she was given a date rape drug. The girl did not remember the assault, but upon waking up, she determined that she had, in fact, been sexually assaulted.

was able to link his DNA to the crime

Police did not rule out Spina at the time, but they did not clear him, either. A 2019 investigation of sexual assault cold cases, however, was able to link his DNA to the crime.

Spina also seemed to admit to the assault in a 2010 Facebook message to the victim’s mother. He apologized and said he hoped she could forgive him.

Casino employee stole $315,000

Switching to a bit less awful crime, the United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota has charged a former employee of the Fortune Bay Resort & Casino with embezzlement and theft from a tribal organization. From June 2013 to October 2019, Jennifer Boutto allegedly stole over $315,000 from Fortune Bay, owned by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.

According to an employee of the Tower, Minnesota casino, Boutto is not a member of the Bois Forte tribe. She worked at the front-desk of the property. Neither Boutto, her attorney, nor the tribe have commented on the case.

Carson City drug bust

The Carson City Sheriff arrested two Bridgeport, California residents on Monday for, among other things, possession of controlled substances at a Carson City casino. Security called the sheriff’s office to report that a man had drugs on him, asking for help getting him off the property. Around 4am, the security officer woke the man, Jason Emery, who was sleeping in the casino. When he woke up, he dropped some belongings, including a baggie containing what appeared to be drugs.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found Emery in a stall of the casino’s restroom, flushing objects down the toilet. Officers were not able to see what the objects were.

Officers arrested Emery, who claimed to not know of the baggie, but was found to also be in possession of other people’s credit cards. His girlfriend, Jonalyn Hernandez, was also arrested on outstanding warrants. When she was searched, officers found drug paraphernalia containing heroin residue.

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