RENO, Nev. – Darren Mack pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder Wednesday in connection with the June 12 attacks that left his estranged wife dead and the judge handling his divorce wounded.
Defense lawyer Scott Freeman asked Judge Douglas Herndon to enter pleas for the wealthy Reno businessman, who chose to remain silent during his arraignment in Clark County District Court
Mack, 45, is charged with stabbed his estranged wife, Charla, to death in the garage of his townhouse on June 12, then shooting Washoe Family Court Judge Chuck Weller through a window as he stood in his third-floor chambers. The judge survived.
Mack fled after the shooting and surrendered to authorities 11 days later in Mexico.
Freeman said the defense will file a writ over a lower court ruling denying a defense request for Mack to undergo psychiatric testing. Additionally, he said they will challenge the evidence on which Justice of Peace Edward Dannan earlier determined that Mack should stand trial.
On Monday, prosecutors decided that Mack would not face the death penalty if convicted of the charges.
Assistant Clark County District Attorney Christopher Lalli said the decision was made Monday after a meeting of a review committee.
Clark County took over prosecution of the case after Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick, citing his longtime friendship with Mack and his own role in negotiating Mack's surrender, recused his office.
Lalli did not detail what factors were considered in reaching the decision, saying that "it's an exercise of prosecutorial discretion."
Freeman said he was pleased by the decision his client won't face a possible death sentence.
"We didn't believe it was that type of case," Freeman said. "But it's very good news."
Soorya Townley, Charla Mack's mother, said it was a difficult issue, but she agreed with the prosecutor's decision.
"I don't think it would be good for his children," she said. "For the children's sake, it's for the best."
Herndon was appointed to preside over the case after all Washoe County judges were disqualified because of possible conflicts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.