District Attorney Steve Wolfson stated that justice had been served after George Tiaffay was found guilty of murder in the first degree by a jury of his peers, along with various other counts of conspiracy, burglary. Tiaffay was accused and convicted of having his estranged wife, Shauna Tiaffay, bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer by a man he had hired approximately three years prior.
George Miguel Tiaffay, age 43, had served for a local firefighter for a decade. He was a valedictorian and graduate of the United States Military Academy. Shauna Tiffay, mother of an 8-year-old girl, was a cocktail waitress who worked as a night shift cocktail waitress at the Palms in Las Vegas, NV. Upon her return to her apartment at around 3:30am, she was beaten to death with a claw hammer. The medical examiner involved in found 17 points of impact from the hammer that fractured her skull and broke her bones. The broken bones in her hands along with her broken fingers showed that she had tried, unsuccessfully, to defend herself against the blows. One of the holes in Shauna’s skull was so deep that the paramedics who originally arrived to the scene thought that he had been shot in the head. George Tiaffay later arrived at the scene with 8-year-old Madison Tiaffay in what the prosecution deemed as an effort to appear completely innocent. Shauna had been dead for hours when they arrived.
The idea to kill her was concocted and planned by George Tiaffay, but he did not swing the hammer. Instead it was a man hired by George to wait in Shauna’s apartment and kill her when she arrived home from work early in the morning. The man who was responsible for the actual act of bludgeoning 46-year-old Shauna Tiaffay to death was 40-year-old Noel Scott Stevens, a homeless man that George Tiaffay had promised $5,000 as compensation for murdering his estranged wife. Stevens plead guilty to murder charges in January of 2013. He confessed to repeatedly beating Shauna with the hammer, even after the wooden handle had broken off. When asked for his testimony during the trial of George Tiaffay, he stated that George had hired him, bought the supplies necessary to accomplish the murder, had afforded him access to the apartment, and had even devised other methods of murdering Shauna before settling on the hammer that Stevens ultimately used. Stevens conveyed to the jury that he fully expects to live out the rest of his life in prison.
In an effort to clear George Tiaffay of any connection to the incident, his defense attorney Robert Langford implied that four-time felon Noel Stevens was simply a homeless man that George Tiaffay had befriended and often hired to do odd jobs. It was also suggested that perhaps the plea bargain Stevens received years earlier could have persuaded him to skew the truth in order to better his own legal situation. He insisted that the testimony of Noel Scott Stevens should not be considered on the basis that Stevens is mentally unstable. There were 87 phone calls between Stevens and George Tiaffay the month prior to Shauna’s murder. Even more calls were made to Shauna that same month after she had told George that their relationship and their marriage was over. There was also video footage presented to the court of Stevens and Tiaffay buying dark clothing, a hammer, a knife, and other supplies weeks before Stevens beat Shauna Tiaffay to death in her apartment. George Tiaffay’s lawyer stated that the only thing anyone could be certain of is that Noel Scott Stevens murdered Shauna Tiaffay.
George Tiaffay did not take the stand. His only vocal contribution to the trial was through a recorded statement taken by police only days before Tiaffay was arrested. It was noted during trial that George Tiaffay was trying to keep Shauna from getting his money. Also taken into consideration was the fact that George Tiaffay crashed into a retaining wall at over 80 mph in his truck just before his trial. He was able to recover enough to stand trial, though prosecuting attorney Marc DiGiacomo claimed it was an effort to avoid prosecution. DiGiacomo also told the jury during trial that, based on the evidence, George Tiaffay had at least a month, if not longer, to change his mind.
George Tiaffay did not seem to have any kind of emotional reaction when the verdict was read, though family members on both sides had strong opinions. Shauna Tiaffay’s sister, Paula Stokes-Richards, was seen embracing longtime friend and Las Vegas local, Laurie Ralphs. She stated to reporters that her sister was loved by many and brutally murderered. Stokes-Richards also stated to press that she was glad the jury saw the truth. Sister of George, Bernadette Holmes, sat quietly sobbing and dabbing her face as the verdict was handed down. Other sister of George Tiaffay, Maria McGrew told reporters that there were some among them who did not think justice had been served at all.
The death penalty was not on the table. However, George Tiaffay was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on September 4, 2015 for the first-degree, premeditated murder of Shauna Tiaffay. George is scheduled to be sentenced for the handful other crimes he committed in connection with the murder of his estranged wife.