Nevada judge: Texas university can decide to ban defendant

Feb 15, 2023, 1:44 AM | Updated: 4:29 pm
FILE - This undated photo released by the Henderson Police Department shows Nika Nikoubin. Texas au...

FILE - This undated photo released by the Henderson Police Department shows Nika Nikoubin. Texas authorities claim police in Nevada didn't inform them when Nikoubin, a suspect in a Las Vegas-area stabbing, relocated to Dallas while awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge. Nikoubin has pleaded not guilty to stabbing a man inside a Las Vegas-area hotel room in March 2022. Court records show the 22-year-old has been on house arrest in Texas since last June. (Henderson Police Department via AP, File)

(Henderson Police Department via AP, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It’s up to the University of Texas at Dallas to decide whether to ban a woman from attending classes on campus while she serves house arrest in Texas ahead of trial in a Las Vegas-area stabbing that drew international attention, a Nevada judge ruled Wednesday.

Authorities have said Nika Nikoubin, 22, attacked her date last year in retaliation for the 2020 death of an Iranian military leader killed in an American drone strike.

Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny said she didn’t have authority to make a campus ban part of tight restrictions imposed on Nikoubin while she lives with her parents in Frisco, Texas.

But the judge did decide that Nikoubin, an aspiring music video performer, can’t book singing and dancing performances at venues away from her home.

“At this point, we’ll just say no,” Kierny said of performance gigs, adding that Nikoubin can ask officials overseeing her pretrial release to seek prior court approval on a case-by-case basis.

A campus police detective, Rod Bishop, cited security concerns and Monday’s fatal mass shooting at Michigan State University as he asked the judge for a court order banning Nikoubin from UT Dallas, where Nikoubin’s father is a professor.

Three university students were killed and five were wounded in East Lansing, Michigan, before a 43-year-old gunman shot himself dead as police confronted him following an hours-long manhunt. Authorities said the man had no known connection to the university and a motive for the shooting was not immediately known.

“After this week’s shooting,” Bishop said by teleconference to the Las Vegas courtroom, “along with continued campus violence across the nation, students and parents are even more alarmed about safety issues.”

Bishop on Monday told Kierny that Texas police only became aware of Nikoubin’s criminal charges in Nevada after a reporter tried to interview her about her internet music video posted under the name Nika Borouj, according to KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.

On Wednesday, Bishop said UT Dallas reached an agreement with Nikoubin restricting her to online courses only, and that she will “not return to the university (campus) while her legal issue is pending.”

“It is important that our 31,000 students as well as our staff and faculty know that their safety is our priority,” he said.

Kierny restated Nikoubin’s restrictions, including a GPS monitor, an evening curfew and limited travel for specified purposes on a pre-approved schedule, including to school. The judge called it “a private issue, whether she is allowed on campus.”

“That would be up to you,” Kierny told Bishop.

Nikoubin’s father, Tooraj Nikoubin, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the university, declined to comment by email and telephone on Wednesday.

Nika Nikoubin has pleaded not guilty and faces trial in July on attempted murder and felony battery with a weapon charges following her arrest in the alleged March 2022 attack on a man she told police she met on a dating app and booked a room with at a Henderson hotel-casino.

Henderson police said Nikoubin acknowledged using a knife and told investigators it was an act of revenge for the death of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military leader killed by an American drone aircraft strike in January 2020.

Nikoubin underwent court-ordered psychological evaluations in Nevada before she was found competent to face criminal charges. She was indicted by a grand jury in December.

Her defense attorney, Alanna Bondy, told Kierny on Wednesday that Nikoubin has been making the 40-minute trip from home to college in Dallas, and rather than return home, stays at her father’s office on Tuesdays and Thursdays between morning classes that end before 10 a.m. and evening classes that begin at 6 p.m.

Outside court, Bondy declined to comment on the case.

Kierny set Nikoubin’s next court date for March 29.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Nevada judge: Texas university can decide to ban defendant