Published November 21, 2015
A blackjack dealer was charged with kidnapping and murder Wednesday in the death of her ex-boyfriend's daughter, adding to existing felony charges she faces in a slashing attack hours later against a co-worker at a Las Vegas Strip casino.
Brenda Stokes Wilson, 50, picked up 10-year-old Jade Morris to go Christmas shopping last month, but instead took her to a vacant lot and killed her, according to police.
Prosecutor Robert Daskas told a judge that DNA tests found the child's blood on clothing Stokes Wilson wore that day and on the driver's door handle and steering wheel of the car she borrowed.
"She had blood on her hands," Daskas said.
Stokes Wilson's lawyer, Tony Liker, said his client intends to plead not guilty to the charges against her.
Prosecutors haven't disclosed a motive for the attacks.
Police and family members, however, think the actions were sparked by jealousy. They have said Stokes Wilson thought the child's father, Philip Morris, had recently begun dating Joyce Rhone, the woman slashed at the casino.
"It was just her imagination," said the girl's grandfather, Philip Tucker, who said he spoke with Rhone by telephone a day after the attack at a Bellagio casino blackjack table.
"There was nothing going on" between his son and Rhone, Tucker added.
Attempts to reach Rhone, 44, on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Stokes Wilson was a trusted family friend who dated Jade Morris' father for about four years, police have said.
Stokes Wilson picked up the girl about 5 p.m. Dec. 21, returned the car to its owner a little after 7 p.m. and was wrestled to the ground at the Bellagio about 9:30 p.m. with razor blades in each hand and three more razors in a bag, police said.
She told police she asked her doctor days earlier to admit her to a hospital because she felt like she wanted to hurt someone. She also told police she had stopped taking prescribed anti-anxiety medication.
Liker, Stokes Wilson's lawyer, declined to say Wednesday whether he might seek an insanity defense.
He said Stokes Wilson was a single mother of three who had a steady job as a blackjack dealer. Liker said Stokes Wilson had a clean previous criminal record, and he believes she's innocent.
"She doesn't meet the profile of someone who would kill a 10-year-old girl," the defense attorney said.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis set an evidence hearing for March 28 on murder, kidnapping, burglary, attempted murder, battery causing substantial bodily harm and mayhem charges -- each with use of a deadly weapon -- that could get Stokes Wilson life in prison or the death penalty.
At the prosecution's request, the judge ordered Stokes Wilson held without bail.
Stokes Wilson stood in shackles and blue jail scrubs in court Wednesday, flanked by armed police and court officers, while Liker lost a bid to allow her to wear street clothes and a wig during court appearances.
The judge said jail garb was sufficient in Justice Court, and that Stokes Wilson would be entitled to wear her customary wig and street clothes if the case reaches a jury.
Liker alleged the DNA evidence against his client was inconclusive and that the girl's parents should be considered suspects.
Outside court, the girl's grandmother, Brenda Morris, repeated the belief that Stokes Wilson plotted to kill the child to hurt Philip Morris, who was in Billings, Mont., at the time.
Philip Morris did not attend Wednesday's court hearing.
Brenda Morris said family members are planning a Jan. 9 funeral.
In the court hallway, Brenda Morris' fiance, Terrance Williams, dismissed Liker's allegations as "trying to build a smoke screen to blame someone else."