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NLV Police: AM/PM Video 'Blows Holes' In Murder Case

A North Las Vegas police spokeswoman admitted Friday that video from an AM/PM convenience store "blows holes" in the murder case it had been trying to build against a 16-year-old Mojave High School student.

Even so, said spokesperson Sgt. Chrissie Coon, the department is not ruling out Patrick Harper as a suspect in the September 5 shooting death of Andrea Lafon. Lafon was shot around 7:15 p.m., police said, near the intersection of Ann and Losee roads, where she is suspected of trying to sell marijuana.

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Police said Lafon was in a car that two people approached; one of them shot Lafon, 20, in the head. Witnesses led North Las Vegas to Harper, who was arrested September 11.

Charged with murder as an adult, Lafon spent 13 days in jail.

But earlier this week, the Clark County District Attorney's office dropped the charges. They were compelled by evidence presented not by North Las Vegas police but from a private investigator working for Harper's attorney, Kristina Wildeveld.

The evidence consisted of witness statements but also of video from an AM/PM convenience store about two miles from the murder scene. The video showed Harper entering the store at 7:07 p.m., leaving about 7:13 p.m. and walking toward Mojave High School.

On KNPR's State of Nevada Friday, Wildeveld said private investigator Toby Tobiasson, who retired in 2013  from Las Vegas police after more than 20 years, "did everything North Las Vegas didn't do. He collected clothes, got cell phones, did Facebook monitoring, social media. And he interviewed all the witnesses," said Wildeveld.

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Tobiasson said he created a time-line of Harper's whereabouts based on statements. Wildeveld drafted a subpoena to get video from the AM/PM, she said, because they wanted to see if Harper's clothing matched the clothing that witnesses claimed he wore at the scene of the murder.

Instead, it showed Harper at the store around the time of the shooting.

Coon said the video "blows holes in our investigation, we know that."

However, Coon added, the problem for North Las Vegas police was that "we still (had) people putting him at the scene (of the murder)."

"Are we to assume that a group of juveniles masterminded a conspiracy to implicate (Harper) for murder?" she asked.

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Harper had told a detective working the case about his visit to the AM/PM. Why didn't the detective try to get video from the store? Coon said the detective was working non-stop and might have forgotten that bit of information.

"Did he even remember the tidbit about that AM/PM? I don't know," she said, adding that detectives rarely sleep when working a murder case.

Coon noted that as soon as they saw the video, they agreed with the district attorney to drop the charges and release Harper from jail.

Coon also said investigators agreed with the district attorney's decision to drop the charges and release Harper from jail.

Since his release, Harper said he has not returned to school because he feels "like there's people in there looking at (him) the wrong way."

"I'm getting so much attention," said Harper, who talks in a low, quiet voice. "My face is all over the news about me doing something I didn't do. I didn't really like it. I seen it while I was in (jail). It just hurt. There's people I don't know and they're going to look at me -- 'Oh, that's the one that killed that girl.'

"I didn't do it, so don't say that."
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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.