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A former Las Vegas cop has confessed to murdering a woman more than 25 years ago.
Arthur Sewall Jr., 56, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon for the 1997 murder of Nadia Iverson, 20, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The former officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) was initially charged with rape and murder but pleaded to lesser charges, agreeing to serve six to 15 years behind bars — though a judge will determine his sentence.
A grand jury previously declined to indict Sewall on rape charges after he told investigators he paid for Iverson’s sexual services, during which she was shot in the head, according to an arrest warrant cited by the outlet.
Loved ones of the Pennsylvania-born woman, including Iverson’s sister, Marie Coker, called the plea deal “very frustrating,” according to the Times-Observer. However, they’re grateful for the closure.
“After 25 and a half years of waiting for justice, I feel, in a sense, relieved because he actually confessed,” Coker told the Pennsylvania outlet. “The fact that he’s owning it is something I’ve prayed for for a very long time. That’s something that I’ve needed, and my family has needed, for closure.”
Sewall’s plea deal comes the week before he was scheduled for trial, according to the Times-Observer.
“We were willing to go,” said Coker. “My husband, I, my brother and my mother were going to be present for the trial.”
Coker added that the plea would spare them from having to “listen to [Sewall’s] lawyers talk poorly about [Iverson] or say that her life didn’t matter because it did."
Construction workers discovered Iverson’s body on May 8, 1997, at an apartment undergoing renovations near Washington Ave and Martin Luther King Boulevard, the Review-Journal previously reported.
Police stated a .357 bullet was found on the floor, though “no shell casing was found,” according to NBC Las Vegas affiliate KSNV.
Investigators hoped to obtain the killer’s DNA from Iverson’s rape kit, which became lost in the backlog of more than 6,000 kits that went untested between 1985 and 2014 in southern Nevada.
About 86.5% of those were from the Las Vegas Metro area alone, according to the Review-Journal.
Iverson’s rape kit was finally tested in 2016.
According to LVMPD Crime Lab Director Kim Murga, Sewall’s DNA was obtained after he spat chewing tobacco on the ground, according to KSNV. That DNA was a match to the sample found on Iverson's body and clothing.
“Certainly, Mr. Sewall has some things to answer to in terms of how his DNA was found in the tested kit,” Murga told the Review-Journal in 2018, following Sewall’s arrest.
Latent print analysis and ballistics also helped detectives narrow in on Sewall as a suspect, according to KSNV.
Coker called the decades between her sister’s murder and Sewall’s arrest “emotionally, spiritually, and physically daunting,” according to the Times-Observer, but that the family “pressed on.”
“She deserved to live. She deserved a life,” Coker stated. “He chose to use his police badge as an opportunity to serve and protect himself instead of the community.”
Sewall worked as a corrections officer beginning in 1990 and joined the police force two years later, according to the Review-Journal.
In February 1997, Sewall was arrested during a police sting and charged with forcing a woman to perform sexual acts on him while he was on duty. He submitted his resignation a month later, two months before Iverson’s murder.
In 1999, Sewall was sentenced to five years probation, during which he was charged in San Diego with soliciting sex from a sex worker.
During his San Diego arrest, police confiscated a .357 revolver, according to the NBC outlet, though it was unclear if the revolver was the weapon used in Iverson’s murder.
Toward the end of Sewall’s five-year probation period, officers reportedly discovered Sewall violated his probation on several occasions, prosecutors told the Review-Journal in 2014. Instances included Sewall having a knife and gun in his San Diego home, failing to report to probation officers and being forced out of a court-ordered sex offender treatment program for not complying.
LVMPD detectives interviewed Sewall at his Reno home on Jan. 11, 2018, and issued a warrant for his arrest the next day, according to the Review-Journal.
Speaking to KSNV, LVMPD cold case investigators Ken Hefner and Dean O’Okelley said Sewall admitted that he “engaged Iverson for sex,” though he initially claimed someone else shot her while they were in the act.
But “Sewall couldn’t account for why his gun was out or pointed at Iverson,” according to the arrest affidavit.
Despite the terms drawn out in Sewall’s recent plea deal, a judge will formally sentence him at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 3. Then, Iverson’s loved ones are expected to read from their impact statements, according to the Times-Observer.
“I cannot wait for that day to be in front of him,” Coker continued. “[Iverson] is missed. She is loved.”
According to the Times-Observer, Sewall will be credited for four years served.
“In two years, he will go before the parole board requesting release. I will be there,” said Coker, “I will fight for every minute for the next 15 full years for my sister.”
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