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Police: Homicide victim stalked woman

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ELKO — Further investigation supports the finding that the shooting death of a California man on May 3 was justifiable homicide, according to police.

Elko Police Lt. Rich Genseal said investigators are not going to pursue charges against Frank Criswell, who reportedly shot and killed Clinton Hopper during a fight in Alesha Piccinini’s apartment.

Police tracked Hopper’s movements through his cellphone usage the night before his death. The 32-year-old drove to Elko from his home in the Sacramento area.

He called Piccinini, whom he was in a relationship with, more than 60 times that night, Genseal said. His car was found in a place where he could watch her apartment.

“We know that he was stalking Ms. Piccinini that morning,” Genseal said. “He could see her apartment.”

Hopper arrived in Elko around 2 a.m. He entered Piccinini’s apartment while she was gone – police said he had a key — and reportedly took items from the apartment that were later found in his car after officers obtained a search warrant.

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Criswell, 28, and Piccinini, 29, had gone out together that night and returned to the apartment around 3 a.m. At about 6:40 a.m., Hopper entered the apartment again. Criswell got up to see who had come in, and Hopper allegedly hit him over the head with a skateboard that was inside the apartment.

“We would be looking at, if Mr. Hopper was here, the potential of charging him with stalking as well as burglary and the assault with a deadly weapon,” Genseal said.

The two men then began fighting and punching each other, Genseal said. They landed on the bed, then rolled to the floor. Hopper was on top of Criswell at that point and reportedly choking him. Genseal said Criswell began to black out and feared for his life.

Criswell then grabbed his .45-caliber pistol, which had been on a nightstand but had fallen within reach during the struggle. Criswell reportedly shot Hopper once through the neck, killing him.

It’s been two weeks since the homicide, and Genseal said police are nearing the end of the investigation. The case will be forwarded to the Elko County District Attorney’s Office, possibly by the end of next week, he said.

“At this point, the police department will not be requesting any charges be filed against Mr. Criswell,” Genseal said. “ … We have no reason to believe this was anything but self-defense on Mr. Criswell’s part.”

The DA’s office has the final say on whether the homicide was justifiable. Genseal said the case will probably be decided quickly, although Nevada law has no statute of limitations for murder charges and allows up to three years to file other felony charges.

“The whole sequence of events we’ve put together … leads to the fact that this was a self-defense or justifiable homicide incident,” Genseal said.

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