Motions filed in murder hearing

CEDAR CITY - A status hearing in the death penalty case of Martin "Marty" Chris Nelson, 45, took place Tuesday in 5th District Court. Nelson was charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of St. George residents Derek Davis and Chad Grijalva, both 34.

The two men told family members, Oct. 24, 2007, they were going from Toquerville to the Cedar City area to run errands.

Detectives said Davis and Grijalva approached Nelson at his home in Beryl to settle a debt of several hundred dollars. They were reported missing when they failed to return home to their families.

After police went to Nelson's property to serve a warrant for his failure to register as a sex offender and discovered a truck belonging to one of the two victims was on his property, the convicted sex offender became a suspect. Evidence collected at the scene suggested the two men were shot eight times in the torso and head with a .22-caliber rifle about 20 yards from Nelson's house, the Associated Press reported. Cadaver dogs found the bodies of Davis and Grijalva buried beneath the floorboards of a tack shed on Nelson's property, the AP said.

Nelson was then charged with aggravated murder by prosecutors who are seeking his execution if he is found guilty.

The hearing addressed outstanding motions including a request by Stephen McCaughey, certified public defender for capital cases, to have two separate juries for the trial and penalty phases of the alleged double-murder case and a declaration of the provision that requires 10 of the 12 jurors to agree on the life without parole sentence unconstitutional.

Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said he is in the process of responding to those motions.

"This is the kind of typical stuff you see in a death penalty case," Garrett said.

The motion to quash a bind-over on two counts of possession of stolen property - a firearm and vehicle - were also discussed at the hearing.

Kanab residents, Fred and Pennie Grijalva, parents of Chad Grijalva, and Davis' mother attended the hearing, Garrett said. Phone call attempts to the Grijalva's for comment were unsuccessful. The contact information of Davis' mother was not known.

Fifth District Judge G. Michael Westfall is expected to rule on the motions Nov. 20.

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