Las Vegas Defendant Accused of Fatally Slashing Homeless Now Suspect in Earlier Case

Posted on: January 10, 2023, 07:09h. 

Last updated on: January 10, 2023, 02:54h.

A man already facing charges for the stabbing of four homeless people — two of them fatally — is now under investigation for a similar case near the UNLV campus.

UNLV campus
The UNLV campus, pictured above. A man accused of several stabbings, some of them homicides, near the Las Vegas university campus faces an additional charge. (Image: Fright Find)

On Monday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) homicide detectives named Christopher Stephen Martell, 33, a suspect in the death of Jeffrey Philip Pridgen, 43, the Associated Press reported.

Pridgen’s fatal stabbing on South Escondido Street took place on Feb. 15, 2022. It was later ruled a homicide. Pridgen died after suffering wounds to the head, neck, and torso. He, too, was homeless.

Martell was later arrested on September 21 for other stabbings, all taking place in the week starting on September 14 near UNLV. The victims include a woman in her 30s who was pushing an older man in a wheelchair on Flamingo Road. They both suffered critical injuries, police said.

Other victims in the September knifings are Jody Devries, 57, and Mary Susan Miller, 74, both of whom died as a result of the attacks.

The location of the stabbings is a few miles away from the Las Vegas Strip, not far from Harry Reid International Airport.

Given the latest case, Martell now faces three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and a single count of battery, KLAS, a local TV station, reported, citing police sources.

Police did not say if he was a suspect in still other similar cases.

Incompetent to Stand Trial

In November, Martell was found mentally incompetent to stand trial on the prior charges. He continues to be held at the Clark County Detention Center.

Christopher Stephen Martell
Christopher Stephen Martell, center, appears in court, pictured above. He has been charged in several stabbings which took place in and around Las Vegas. Some of the victims died. All were homeless. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

He was first booked at the jail on September 22 and no bail was set.

Martell could have faced the death penalty or many decades in prison if his case had moved forward and he was found guilty.

Because he was ruled incompetent to stand trial, he is deemed as being unable to understand the charges against him. The ruling also means he’s incapable of assisting his lawyer in preparing a defense.

Martell will be reassigned to Lake’s Crossing Center in Sparks, Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. It’s a maximum-security psychiatric facility where he will undergo counseling and treatment.

Later, he could once again be evaluated by mental health professionals for competency. If he is found to be competent in the future, he could face trials for the stabbings.

Prior Competency Ruling

Last month, another defendant, Yoni Barrios, 32, was ruled to be mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Barrios was accused in the October 6 slashing of eight people, two of whom died. The stabbings took place near the Wynn Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip. He apparently asked some showgirl impersonators for a photo while he posed with a large knife. They refused and Barrios began stabbing people in the area.

Barrios initially faced two charges of murder with a deadly weapon and six counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

Barrios was identified as a Guatemalan national who somehow snuck into the US, Fox News reported, based on information from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).