Mack turns himself in, booked into Washoe jail
MARTHA BELLISLE - RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
original article here
Ending an 11-day international manhunt, Darren Mack turned himself in to authorities and arrived in Reno late Friday to face charges in the stabbing death of his estranged wife and the shooting of the family court judge deciding their divorce.
Bearded and wearing a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, he arrived for booking at the Washoe County Jail at about 11:50 p.m. Friday.
Mack, a 45-year-old wealthy Reno businessman, surrendered at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday to FBI agents and Mexican police officers at the Marriott Hotel in the Pacific Coast tourist town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
He was flown Friday morning to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and later booked in the Dallas County Jail. Mack waived extradition to Nevada and was flown to Reno aboard a state of Nevada jet provided by Gov. Kenny Guinn.
Mack arrived in an armored SWAT van escorted by two Reno Police cruisers. Before he stepped out of the van, five officers armed with assault rifles secured the area. And then, about a dozen sheriff's deputies and several detectives escorted him inside the jail.
After being booked, he was scheduled to meet with his lawyers, who were waiting for him.
He was expected to make his first Reno court appearance on Monday.
Charla Mack was found stabbed to death on the floor of Mack's garage on June 12. Several hours after she was believed to be killed, Washoe District Family Court Judge Chuck Weller was shot by a sniper. The shooter fired from the roof of a nearby parking garage into Weller's third-floor office window, hitting the judge in the chest.
Darren Mack has been charged in Charla's death and will face attempted-murder charges connected to the shooting of Weller once in Reno, officials said Friday.
His arrest was welcome news to the families of Charla Mack and Weller.
"We are greatly relieved that Darren Mack has been apprehended without additional senseless bloodshed," said Charla's brother, Christopher Broughton. "And we look forward to justice being served."
Weller said in a statement that "he was overjoyed that he and his family will be able to resume their lives."
Mack first contacted Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick on Monday, and began negotiations for his return to Nevada. After days of talks, Mack agreed to surrender early Thursday at the U.S. Consulate in Puerto Vallarta and then failed to show up.
He talked with his attorneys Thursday, and then arranged to meet authorities at the resort that evening to surrender.
Reno Police Chief Mike Poehlman said Mack may have wanted to give up, but he also may have feared being caught.
"We believe, based on what we know, that he was aware that things were tightening around him with the checkpoints that the Mexican authorities were running," Poehlman said. "They were aggressively checking public transportation. And that led him to contact his attorneys."
But Mack's attorney in Reno, Scott Freemen, said the arrest took an extra day because of concerns about Mack facing the death penalty once he returned.
"It was always his desire to surrender," Freeman said. "It was always his lawyers' advice that he surrender. However, we wanted to explore the options with Mexico, and that created the delay."
Under Mexico's extradition policy, no one will be extradited to any country without assurances that the person will not face the death penalty. Freeman said he discussed that policy with Mack while he considered his surrender.
"Even though that option remained for Mr. Mack, he chose to voluntarily surrender, and all parties cooperated together to accomplish that desire," Freeman said.
Freeman said Darren's mother, Joan Mack, and brother, Landon, were relieved by the outcome.
"The most important thing is that their son and brother is alive," Freeman said. "They're grateful this ended peacefully."
He said a major factor in Darren's decision to surrender "was his concerns for his family and his children." Freeman is representing Mack with Las Vegas lawyer David Chesnoff.
Darren and Charla Mack were married in 1995, and had one daughter who is now 8. But Charla filed for divorce last year, and their case went before Weller.
Early in the divorce proceedings, Weller ordered the couple to share custody and granted physical custody to Charla. He also ordered Darren Mack to pay $849 each month for child support and $10,000 per month in alimony.
According to financial records Mack provided to Wells Fargo Bank last year to secure a $500,000 line of credit, Darren and Charla together were worth more than $12 million and he alone was worth $10.67 million. Darren's monthly income was about $44,000, court records show.
The Mack family started the downtown Palace Jewelry & Loan Co. about 48 years ago. Darren Mack and his mother were equal co-owners until last year, when he transferred 1 percent interest. Joan Mack has been the sole manager of the business since last year, the company said last week in a statement.
Darren Mack became a vocal opponent of Weller's, and friends and family have said that Mack thought the judge was corrupt. Another friend told police after the murder and shooting that Mack "was at the end of his rope" and was "extremely frustrated and angry with both his estranged wife and Judge Weller," according to the search warrant affidavit.
District Attorney Gammick, who said he has known Mack for 20 years, said he was aware Mack was struggling with the divorce, but thought he had it under control.
As the prosecuting attorney for the county, Gammick will be part of the team that decides whether Mack will face execution.
"I owe my allegiance to the people of this county, and this case will be handled just like any other murder case would be handled," Gammick said. If there is a challenge to his office over a possible conflict of interest, Gammick said "our office will address that."
"We work really hard to try to avoid as many of these legal issues as we can," he said. "But the attorneys on the other side are aggressive, and I'm sure we're going to see challenges on just about every single thing that can be challenged."
Our thanks to OneofSeven for sending this to us!!