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Robert Ybarra Jr. Profile and Chronology

Age 25 at time of murder, age 28 at time of conviction.

Born: Sacramento, California

Parents: Robert Ybarra Sr. and Colleen Ybarra

Brothers: Gregg Ybarra, Mark Anthony "Tony" Ybarra, and Michael Ybarra

Physical description: 6" 2", 160 pounds, and Black hair, Blue eyes.

Health complaints: suffered from Migraine headaches caused from head injury at age 9.

Married: Mar 10, 1979

Wife, then pregnant, left him in July 1979 to move to Oregon

Attempted suicide the day his wife left him in July 1979

Moved from Sacramento, California to Ely, NV, in September 1979, one week before the murder to the McConley Trailer Court located on the McGill Highway.

Occupation: Worked for Earth Resources on a mineral exploration drilling rig in Butte Valley, NV

September 29, 1979 - Arrested for assault of Nancy L. Griffith and following her death he was charged with her murder.

The Arrest and Trial Delays Chronology

September 29, 1979 - Robert Ybarra was arrested for suspicion of the assault of Nancy L. Griffith approximately 12 miles north of the crime scene on 30 Mile Road. He was driving a small red Toyota pickup with a white camper shell a few miles from his place of employment in Butte Valley. The arrest occurred a few hours after she was found alongside the 30 Mile Road at approximately 8:30 a.m. in a semi-conscious condition and severely injured from a beating and being set on fire with a flammable liquid.

A .22 caliber revolver was found in Ybarra's red truck with 100 rounds of ammunition

October 1, 1979 - Appeared before Justice of the Peace Bill Nichols in the White Pine Jail to be charged by District Attorney Robert Johnston with the murder of Nancy Griffith, age 16 years old. Local attorney Steve McGuire was appointed to represent Ybarra as the Public Defender. DA Johnston filed charges of murder, kidnapping, battery with intent to commit sexual assault and sexual assault against Ybarra.

October 9, 1979 - Preliminary Hearing scheduled. Rescheduled first to be held on 17th, then on 19th, but moved to the end of month because of court conflicts and defense counsel schedules.

October 29/30, 1979 - Ybarra's preliminary hearing was closed to the press and the public by Justice of the Peace William Nichols because of requests from the defendant's counsel Steve McGuire and J. Gregory Damm and the District Attorney Bob Johnston and Deputy DA Gary Fairman to prevent excessive publicity. After the closed hearing was held, Ybarra was bound over for trial in the Seventh District Court. A trial date was not set. The Ely Daily Times protested the closed hearing.

November 9, 1979 - Attempted suicide in White Pine County Jail, cut wrists, wounds superficial and did not require stitches.

December 1979 - Dr. John Chappel interviewed Ybarra to determine if he was competent to stand trial. He determined Ybarra was not competent because he refused to cooperate with the defense. Chappel recommended Ybarra be sent to Lake's Crossing for the Criminally Insane Offender for immediate treatment.

By February 1980, the court case had moved towards a trial date in late March 1980. District Judge Merlyn Hoyt instructed the prosecutors office to release some material of discovery by March 1, 1980 to the defense counsel. The defense was given permission to hire Ray Gubser Detective Agency of Las Vegas to help with its investigation of the case.

District Court Arraignment - Judge Hoyt read the list of charges to Ybarra who pled not guilty to each of the four felony charges brought against him in connection with the Griffith murder. The charges were: murder, first degree kidnapping, felony battery to commit sexual assault and sexual assault. Two psychiatrists had examined Ybarra and both found him competent to stand trial. An opening trial date of March 31, 1980 was chosen by the court, defense and prosecution. At that time, DA Johnston indicated he may be seeking the death penalty and the trial would take longer than two weeks to try the case as a capital offense because a second trial would be held to determine whether the death penalty should be imposed.

Mar 8, 1980 made wound in hollow of elbow. Wound superficial and did not require stitches

March 31, 1980 - Jury Selection was to have begun but has been delayed by the lack of final psychological reports from Lake's Crossing Institute for the Criminally Insane Offender. The county had to wait a month for a psychological evaluation appointment then waited over a month for the psychiatrist's reports.

April 1980 - Jury selection took place and was complete by April 8th. After jury selection was finished, the defense asked the court for a change of venue to have the trial held outside of White Pine County. Judge Hoyt rejected the motion and the defense filed a motion asking for the Nevada Supreme Court to grant the change of venue.

October 1980 - A six month delay took place because the defense asked the Nevada Supreme Court to rule that Ybarra's case be moved from Ely because of jurors reading news accounts of the crime and several knew the victim or her family. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled the case would not be moved from Ely and that Ybarra could receive a fair trial in Ely. The original jury was to be reseated when a new trial date could be set.

November 1980 - Robert Ybarra is admitted to Lake's Crossing for the Criminally Insane Offender in Reno, NV.

March 1981 - About six months later, Robert Ybarra is released from Lake's Crossing for the Criminally Insane Offender in Reno, NV, as he was determined to now be mentally competent to stand trial in the Seventh District Court.

May 4, 1981 - Judge Hoyt granted a further delay in court proceedings to allow Public Defender Norman Herring to question his client. Herring had been added to the defense team shortly before the scheduled trial date and needed time to prepare for defending Ybarra. Hoyt then warned both the defense and prosecution that that this would be the last delay allowed in the Ybarra trial.

May 1981 - Ybarra was given an electroencephalograph (EEG) test and it was found to be within the normal range.

June 1981 - The murder trial finally began. Found guilty of the rape and murder of Nancy L. Griffith and received the death penalty 1981. In 1999 he continues to be incarcerated in the Ely State Prison, Ely, NV awaiting execution.

Ybarra has filed numerous appeals and petitions in District Courts, The Nevada State Supreme Court, Federal District Courts, and the U. S. Supreme Court since his 1981 conviction.

July 6, 1999 - Ybarra lost his latest appeal when the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Ybarra failed to prove prejudice or show any fundamental miscarriage of justice in his case. As a result the justices said Ybarra is procedurally barred from petitioning. Ybarra had included more than 70 other claims in his latest appeal, most of which were previously petitioned in the above courts.

Nancy Griffith Murder

Nancy L. Griffith Biography

The Crime details

The Trial

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