Posted on: February 11, 2021, 10:51h.
Last updated on: February 11, 2021, 12:01h.
A North Dakota man was sentenced to life without parole Tuesday for the brutal murder of a woman he barely knew at Circus Circus Reno.
Tevin Raeshaun Johnson, 23, killed 37-year-old Amber Morris of Ohio on July 29, 2019 by strangling her and stomping on her head in her hotel room, causing brute force trauma to the brain.
Johnson pleaded guilty last year to one count of first-degree murder.
According to court documents, mother-of-four Morris had met Johnson just two hours before her death. She had arrived in town with her husband and sister earlier that day as her husband had contract work at the nearby Tesla Gigafactory.
Morris Loitered in Hallway Before Murder
Morris and her sister befriended a man in a Mcdonald’s in downtown Reno and invited him to join them. Later, in the street, the trio bumped into Johnston, who struck up a conversation. He was invited to join Morris, her sister, and their male acquaintance at the casino.
Later, the sisters and the male acquaintance went up to Morris’s room, leaving Johnson in the lobby area. According to Morris’s sister, Johnson had become flirtatious, “but in a weird way,” and it had been made clear to him that he was not welcome in the room.
Johnson was then seen on surveillance video riding the elevator up to the North Tower, poking his head out on each floor, and looking down hallways, as if he were trying to discover the whereabouts of Morris’s room.
According to court documents, when the trio exited the room sometime later to go for a smoke, they found Johnson loitering in the hallway.
At around this point, Morris’s husband, Robert Morris, returned to the room after finishing work and argued with his wife. He packed his bags and went to sleep in his car, which was parked on the top floor of Circus Circus’s parking garage.
Morris told the group she wanted to stay alone in her room in case her husband returned. The others, including Johnson, went back to the casino.
At some point, Johnson returned to the room alone. Morris may have answered the door to him, believing him to be her husband.
Husband Suing for Negligence
Morris’ half-naked body was discovered the next day by security after her sister requested a welfare check. She had been sexually assaulted.
Police found Johnson’s shoes discarded in an elevator, which were later determined to have Morris’s DNA on them. He was arrested shortly afterward.
Robert Morris is suing Circus Circus’s owner, Caesars Entertainment, over his wife’s death, claiming the casino’s security “failed to exercise ordinary care.” It’s one of several recent negligence lawsuits against casino resorts alleging failure to adequately protect guests.
Morris argues that patrons have an expectation of safety and that most properties have protocols about allowing access to hotel areas, particularly after the October 1, 2017, Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas.