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Man gets 32 years to life in Las Vegas slaying

Updated December 7, 2021 - 4:58 pm

A 34-year-old convicted of first-degree murder for his part in a deadly 2016 shooting in Las Vegas was sentenced Tuesday to 32 years to life in prison.

Michael Rusk and his co-defendant, 44-year-old Cortrayer Zone, were convicted by a jury in October of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit murder for the killing of 34-year-old Clarence McQuarters. Rusk also was convicted of home invasion and robbery stemming from crimes after the shooting, while he was running from police.

A large part of the October trial focused on a love triangle between Zone, his girlfriend and McQuarters. District Judge Jacqueline Bluth on Tuesday questioned why Rusk was involved in the killing.

“There was no motive. It was so confusing to everyone involved in this case as to why Mr. Rusk would take these steps and do this to someone he had no contact, no relationship (with),” Bluth said.

On June 10, 2016, Rusk drove Zone to confront McQuarters, prosecutors have said, because Zone thought his girlfriend was cheating on him with the other man.

The friends waited at McQuarters’ apartment complex for more than an hour before shooting him in the parking lot.

Prosecutor John Giordani said on Tuesday that Rusk shot McQuarters “in what appears to be obvious cold blood.”

“For all intents and purposes, it appears he’s just a really good friend of Mr. Zone and decided to execute this man because Mr. Zone wanted to,” Giordani said.

During the trial, Rusk took the witness stand and said he did not shoot McQuarters, and that he thought he was driving Zone to McQuarters’ apartment to check on Zone’s girlfriend.

Zone, who has an extensive criminal history, was the only defendant facing the death penalty at trial. Jurors in October spared his life, sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The jury could not decide on a sentence for Rusk in October, so his defense attorney instead asked for Bluth to sentence the 34-year-old.

Clark Patrick, Rusk’s defense attorney, said on Tuesday that he believed the jury could not reach a decision on Rusk’s sentence because defense attorney Christopher Oram, who represented Zone, argued that his client faced discriminatory prosecution because Zone, who is Black, faced capital punishment while Rusk did not.

Patrick said he and his client were accused of being racist, but Bluth said “the word ‘racist’ was never used” during the trial.

“The jurors unanimously discussed that they did not believe racism played any part in this case at all,” the judge said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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