The 11th Judicial Court met on Monday, Mar. 1. Judge Jim Shirley presided. The defense attorneys included PD Steve Cochran, Kyle Swanson and Richard Davies, from Reno. Attorney Steve Evenson attended by phone. DA Bryce Shields and DDA Todd Banks argued on behalf of the State of Nevada.

Probation violation hearings

Javier Flores Valtierra Jr., 34, came to court from the Pershing County jail. Three years ago, the 11th Judicial granted him probation for possessing controlled substances. Monday, he admitted to violating the terms and conditions of his probation.

Valtierra explained that he’d stayed away from drugs for nearly a year. He had relocated to Carson City and was doing well, he said. Unfortunately, when moving in with his girlfriend, he found some black tar heroin among his belongings and relapsed.

Black tar heroin is a free base form of heroin that is sticky like tar or hard like coal. It is generally cheaper than other forms of the drug. It may also be more toxic. 

The defendant drove to a parking lot to take the drug because he did not want to bring it into his home. Later, a Carson deputy responded to a report of someone passed out in a car. He found Valtierra unconscious with a black tarlike residue at his feet, along with other paraphernalia.

The deputy made a fist and rubbed his knuckles over Valtierra’s sternum, hoping to elicit a pain response. Nothing.

First responders rushed the defendant to Carson Tahoe Hospital, where the medical staff administered Narcan. It reversed the effects of the overdose.

After Valtierra’s release, the deputy arrested him for possession of drug paraphernalia and violating probation.

The defendant is also $570 in arrears on his supervision fees. Probationers agree to pay $30 a month as a condition of their probation. 

Cochran spoke positively about the defendant. “Hopefully, he finds a way to reconcile his addiction with every other aspect of his life- good work ethic, positive relationships, things of that nature,” he said. The defense attorney noted that Nevada’s statutes have changed since Valtierra began his trajectory through the 11th Judicial Court.

“The charge that Mr. Valtierra is on probation for is now a misdemeanor in the state of Nevada,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that there was a relapse; that’s probably the norm rather than the exception.”

DDA Banks countered that changes to the statutory structure did not apply retroactively. He said the court could expect to see similar arguments going forward.

Judge Shirley had the option of sending the defendant to prison to serve the rest of his term. Alternatively, he could put Valtierra back on probation with the same or additional conditions. Or, he could dishonorably discharge him, a red flag to any future sentencing judge.

“Mr. Valtierra, I want to see you succeed. You have a child you probably love, and they probably love you. It’s up to you whether you want to continue to walk on the edge,” he said.

The judge ordered the defendant to stay in jail for 90 days - until May 1.  At that point, he will dishonorably discharge Valtierra from probation. The defendant must pay $570 for his supervision fees plus an additional $238 in court costs.

Steven Wendell Sallaz also came to court from jail. Kyle Swanson and Steve Cochran represented the defendant, who admitted to violating his probation. 

On Oct. 14, 2020, law enforcement arrested Sallaz on an outstanding bench warrant. During the booking process, a deputy noticed a plastic bag sticking out of one of Sallaz’s boots. On inspection, the deputy found it contained several smaller individual bags of a white powdery substance.

Sallaz asked the deputy to flush the baggies. When the deputy refused, Sallaz grabbed them and ran, flushing them before anyone could stop him.

The deputy retrieved one baggie. Meanwhile, the undersheriff found two individually wrapped baggies inside the defendant’s boot. They charged Sallaz with possession of a controlled substance, possession of controlled substances for sale and destroying evidence. 

Later, the Western Regional Drug Court terminated the defendant. The court had ordered him to complete the program as a condition of his probation.

The attorneys came to a global resolution. In exchange for admitting the probation violations, they’d dismiss another charge.

“If reinstated in Pershing County, the problems that haunted Mr. Sallaz while on probation would still be there,” said Swanson. “We came to the realization that it was best to do his time.”

Sallaz spoke to the judge before sentencing. 

“I’m not a good candidate for drug court, so I’d like to abstain,” he said, adding, “Frank (Wilkerson) was probably the best coordinator ever in the program, and I wasn’t ready for Frank to leave.”

The judge sentenced Sallaz to 19-48 months in prison with 70 days credit for time served. The sentence will run concurrently with the Carson City sentence. Sallaz must also pay a $600 public defender fee and court costs.