Vegas man due in court in high school girl's death

October 22, 2011 - 8:30 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A teenager charged in the torture rape and slaying of a 15-year-old girl whose burned body was found in northwest Las Vegas wanted to prove he could be as brutal as the most notorious Las Vegas gang member, according to a prosecutor in the case.

There's no evidence 19-year-old Javier Righetti knew Alyssa Otremba, the Arbor View High School sophomore he is accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting, robbing and stabbing more than 80 times Sept. 2 before leaving her corpse in a vacant lot not far from her home.

"It made him feel powerful," prosecutor Christopher Lalli said of the 6-foot-2 and 205 pound Righetti, who provided what Lalli called an "elaborate confession" to police following his Sept. 6 arrest.

"He said he did it because it made him seem more like a gangster or a thug" Lalli said.

Righetti is accused of carving the initials "LV" into Otremba's thigh, and of returning later with gasoline to douse the body and set it afire. Lalli said Righetti wasn't affiliated with a gang, but said the letters stood for Las Vegas.

Righetti also is accused of kidnapping, robbing and sexually attacking another teenage girl last March — a crime that prosecutors say was similar to the attack on Otremba, and that figured prominently in discussions by a panel of Clark County District Attorney prosecutors who decided to seek death against him. Authorities say Righetti didn't know the victim in that case, either.

On Thursday, Righetti faces a state court judge for the first time since Clark County District Attorney David Roger announced he'll seek the death penalty.

Righetti's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Timothy O'Brien, said Wednesday that Righetti will plead not guilty to the 10 charges including murder, kidnapping, robbery and multiple sex assault charges including battery with intent to commit sexual assault by strangulation.

O'Brien declined to discuss Righetti's defense.

Lalli said prosecutors expect the defense will focus on Righetti's upbringing and psychological profile.

Lalli convinced a Clark County District Court Judge Linda Bell following Righetti's indictment on Oct. 7 that Righetti posed a danger to the community and should not be allowed out of the Clark County jail pending trial.

The prosecutor said Righetti has family in Mazatlan, Mexico, where he is a suspect in a sexual assault on a female cousin in August, though no charges have been filed.

Lalli said witnesses corroborate much of what Righetti told police.

He said he'd been committing rapes since he was 12, and he was prosecuted as a juvenile and sent to a Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko "for what he now admits was a sexually motivated kidnapping," Lalli said.

The judge ordered Righetti held without bail pending trial.