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Death penalty sought for suspects in fatal New Year’s Eve robberies

Updated August 10, 2022 - 6:58 am

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for two men accused of committing a string of armed robberies that left two people dead on New Year’s Eve.

Jordan Ruby, 18, and Jesani Carter, 20, were indicted in February on 13 counts, including two counts of murder with a deadly weapon of a victim 60 or older. Prosecutors filed court documents on Friday indicating that they will seek the death penalty for both suspects.

“The evidence will show that the two defendants came to Las Vegas on the busiest day of the year to ‘make money’ by robbing people in the tourist corridor,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo wrote in the notice of intent to seek the death penalty. “During the course of their actions to ‘make money,’ the two defendants killed two innocent bystanders while taking their money and/or property.”

DiGiacomo declined to comment on the case on Tuesday, and District Attorney Steve Wolfson did not reply to a request for comment. Attorneys for Ruby and Carter also did not reply to a request for comment.

The suspects have been linked to five robberies in parking structures at casinos and the Fashion Show mall over a period of two days, the Metropolitan Police Department has said. Two of those robberies involved a fatal shooting.

Detectives narrating surveillance footage testified during a court hearing in January that two men in a silver BMW would drive up to parking structures. Once they spotted a victim, one would get out of the car, threaten that person with a gun and demand their belongings. Four of the crimes were caught on video.

The first robbery was reported at the Wynn Las Vegas on Dec. 30, police said.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 66-year-old Clarice Yamaguchi of Hawaii was shot and killed near the Fashion Show mall on the Strip. She was walking back to her car with her husband to get a face mask when a passenger in a passing BMW got out and tried to take her purse, police have said. A round went off and struck Yamaguchi when her husband tried to tackle the man.

After the killing, the suspects targeted an employee at the Sahara Las Vegas, a Metro detective testified during the January court hearing. The employee had reported that someone tried to take his backpack and then fired a round at him when he ran away.

The BMW then was seen at Palace Station, where a woman was robbed at gunpoint in a parking garage, the detective testified.

A short time later, 60-year-old Hyo Sup Um was shot in the same parking garage, and his wallet was missing after the shooting, police have said. He died at University Medical Center.

DiGiacomo has said that during a recorded phone call from jail, Ruby told a woman that “he came to Las Vegas for the purpose of robbing people on New Year’s.”

Carter, a California resident, denied his involvement in the robberies during an interview with the Review-Journal.

The two suspects remained in the Clark County Detention Center on Tuesday without bail, according to jail records. They are scheduled to appear in court again on Aug. 25.

Prosecutors last week also filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for a man and woman accused of killing their 8-year-old son. Christina and Leon Gritz are facing charges of murder and four counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment resulting in substantial bodily harm in the death of Isaiah Gritz, who drowned last year after suffering a large head wound.

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