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8 News Now team joins in on Scale the Strat

LAS VEGAS -- This year, a record 630 people signed up for the Scale the Strat event. The fundraiser was held at the Stratosphere Sunday morning to raise money for lung cancer awareness.

Climbers formed a line and waited, one-by-one, to go up 108 flights of stairs to the top of the tower.

The 8 News NOW team joined in on the action. Anchor Paul Joncich and Assignment Editor Jonathan Cisowski joined in the climb to show their support and raise money. Joncich also emceed the event.

“Two of my three kids are asthmatic,” said Joncich. “So I know the breathing issues in the valley and I want to do everything I can to raise money for the American Lung Association and help people like my dad or people going through lung cancer, COPD. It's a really great cause and my cause is making it to the top without passing out."

“I got my dad to quit smoking 15 years ago and any kind of awareness to prevent lung disease, cancer is always a great benefit,” Said Cisowski.

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Vegas sees same number of January visitors, 3.4 million

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Tourism officials say 3.4 million people visited Las Vegas in January, virtually the same number as last year.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released its latest statistics Friday that the number of visitors was up one-tenth of a percent in a month when the city was filled with Consumer Electronics Show attendees, New Year's Eve visitors and fans of the Super Bowl leading up to the Feb. 1 game.

The agency says hotel occupancy was down on the Las Vegas Strip and area-wide in hotels, motels and during the week and weekends. The downtown Fremont Street area was the exception with 77.6 percent of its rooms occupied, up 4.2 percentage points.

Average daily rate for a hotel room in the destination climbed 15 percent to $136 a night.

New Strip shops open Thursday

LAS VEGAS - A new outdoor shopping center is opening on the Las Vegas Strip Thursday.

The Grand Bazaar Shops retail complex sits on two acres of prime real estate at Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Developers say the complex will combine contemporary retail with elements reminiscent of world-renowned markers such as London's Portobello Road and New York's Grand Central Terminal.

The Grand Bazaar Shops features 125 stores.

The people behind the project say it offers a different shopping experience than other retail outlets.

"It's more about experience than it is shopping for something," said Grand Bazaar Shops developer Larry Siegel. "You're going to be able to come here and consume and buy things you'd be able to buy in different places, but not with the experiences."

The shops are smaller, ranging in size from 150 to 300 square feet.

I-Team: Delays normal in death penalty cases

Ammar Harris

LAS VEGAS -- Two years have passed since a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip led to a fiery crash and the deaths of three people.

The man accused of those murders, Ammar Harris, still has not been brought to trial. An old adage says justice delayed is justice denied but it's also true the wheels of justice turn slowly.

As the I-Team learned, the reasons for that aren't always foot-dragging or delay tactics.

It was in February 2013 when reputed pimp Kenneth Cherry was shot in his Maserati as he drove away from the Aria resort. The mortally wounded Cherry crashed his car into a taxicab, causing an explosion that killed cabbie Michael Bolden and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund.

Since Harris was arrested the trial date in the death penalty case has moved three times and is now scheduled for July.

Bolden's brother, Tehran Bolden, worries about the toll the case continues to take on his 93-year-old mother.

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Nevada death penalty costs reflect U.S. trends

Infographic by Ned Wolfenbarger

When Nevada lawmakers were informed in November that death penalty cases in the state cost $532,000 more on average than other murder cases from arrest through the end of incarceration, the findings were consistent with other studies pushed by anti-death penalty advocates.

The financial hit taken by taxpayers has become one of the central arguments death penalty foes have used in recent years in an effort to have states overturn that form of punishment.

A search of the Internet turns up little in the way of arguments that refute the cost studies, even though the majority of states have death penalty laws that continue to be defended by victims' rights organizations.

There are 18 states without the death penalty. Michigan has been on that list the longest, having been without a death penalty since 1846, while Maryland was last to join this group in 2013.

I-Team: Searching for the Mirage Volcano Man

LAS VEGAS -- Millions of people have been awed by the sights and sounds of the Mirage volcano but few have seen the attraction from the other side.

Now in its 26th year of operation, the volcano was out of service for six weeks for a tune-up. The new version has three times as many special effects as the original one, thanks in part to a 135,000-watt stereo system that delivers pounding Polynesian rhythms from Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and renowned Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain through 67 hidden speakers.

It is an enormous task to make sure all of the moving parts fit seamlessly, which is why it takes a six-person team to operate the volcano full time. The I-Team can vouch for this because it became the first television crew allowed to record an entire performance from the top of the Strip attraction.

Mayweather, Pacquiao sign deal, agree to fight on May 2

Credit: Floyd Mayweather

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have signed a deal and have agreed to fight on May 2.

Mayweather posted a photo of his signed agreement on a social media account on Friday afternoon.

The post read "What the world has been waiting for has arrived. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao on May 2, 2015, is a done deal. I promised the fans we would get this done, and we did. We will make history on May 2nd. Don't miss it! This is the signed contract from both fighters."

The long anticipated bout at the MGM Grand here in Las Vegas will almost surely break every financial record ever, and make both boxers richer than ever. Mayweather could earn $120 million or more, while Pacquiao's split of the purse will likely be around $80 million.