- Associated Press - Friday, January 8, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A homeless handyman was sentenced to 42 years to life in prison for bludgeoning a Las Vegas cocktail waitress to death with a claw hammer in a murder-for-hire plot arranged by the woman’s firefighter husband.

Noel Scott Stevens’ defense attorney, Dan Silverstein, noted the sentence for the four-time convicted felon was less than the life-without-parole that defendant George Miguel Tiaffay received last month after a jury found him guilty of orchestrating the scheme.

“The person most culpable received the most severe sentence,” Silverstein said.

Stevens, 40, was sentenced Thursday in Clark County District Court. He pleaded guilty in January 2013 to murder, conspiracy, burglary and robbery in the September 2012 slaying of Shauna Tiaffay and testified against George Tiaffay, who authorities said was upset that his wife wanted a divorce and incensed that she might get his money.

Stevens told the jury at the time that he didn’t expect he’d ever get out of prison. Silverstein said it was unlikely he would appeal the sentence.

Stevens matter-of-factly described for the jury hiding in an apartment and killing Tiaffay, a 46-year-old mother of an 8-year-old, when she returned home from a night shift serving cocktails at the Palms Casino.

The wooden handle of the hammer broke, but Stevens told the jury he kept hitting Tiaffay with the metal hammer head until she finally stopped moving.

He testified that George Tiaffay purchased the hammer and the clothes he wore for the slaying, provided an apartment key, drew him a map, and told him when his estranged wife would be alone and vulnerable.

Stevens said he was promised $5,000 to do the deed.

George Tiaffay, now 44, was at work when his wife was killed. He had the couple’s daughter with him when he arrived the next morning to find Shauna Tiaffay’s bloody body and called 911.

Prosecutors said Stevens had no motive to kill and was manipulated into the act by George Tiaffay.

Prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty against Tiaffay because he wasn’t the one who carried out the slaying.

His defense attorney, Robert Langford, has promised to appeal Tiaffay’s sentence.

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