Updated September 10, 2021 - 5:01 pm
A judge has dismissed a murder charge against a Las Vegas woman accused of driving over her boyfriend and killing him.
During a grand jury hearing, prosecutors improperly presented statements that 42-year-old James Dutter gave to police after he was struck by a Mitsubishi Mirage being driven by Maylien Doppert, District Judge Michael Villani ruled last week.
Doppert’s defense attorney, Josh Tomsheck, argued that Dutter’s statement was not made “under reasonable belief of impending death,” which meant his description of events — given to a detective days before he died in November — was not subject to cross-examination, making it inadmissible at trial.
The judge agreed.
Prosecutors argued that Dutter threw a television at Doppert’s car to avoid being hit and heard her rev the engine before he was stuck.
“Defendant’s admission that she hit Dutter with her car after they were arguing indicates that she had motive to hit him and acted willfully and intentionally,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Hagar Trippiedi wrote in court papers. “The purpose of Dutter’s statements were to assist detectives with an ongoing emergency and allow detectives to assess the situation and possible danger to Dutter and to the public.”
Doppert, 42, initially was indicted in February on one count of murder with a deadly weapon in connection with Dutter’s death.
In late November, officers and paramedics were called to a condominium complex at 4110 Sanderling Circle, near West Desert Inn Road and South Arville Street. They found Dutter on the ground, seriously injured, in a pool of blood. He had no sensation in his legs or his left arm, but he was conscious.
Dutter told police that he and his girlfriend were breaking up, and that he was packing his Mustang with his belongings when Doppert arrived. The couple started to argue, with Doppert accusing him of stealing her belongings. He said he initially avoided being hit as Doppert drove at him, but Doppert ultimately reversed her car and struck him.
Tomsheck also argued that prosecutors did not present evidence to the grand jury that showed that Dutter had a history of drug use and an enlarged heart, though Villani did not consider that in his decision.
“This has always been a very unusual case,” the attorney told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday. “It was readily apparent after reviewing the record that this indictment was fatally flawed. On behalf of Maylien, I am very glad that the Court thoroughly reviewed the pleadings, applied the appropriate law and made the correct decision in dismissing the charges.”