LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Four minors charged in the beating death of a Rancho High School teen appeared in court on Wednesday morning, and one of them has agreed to plead guilty.
The four juveniles appeared virtually before Judge Amy M. Mastin in Clark County Juvenile Court on January 31. The first to appear agreed to an amended charge of voluntary manslaughter in exchange for other charges against him being dropped.
The judge did not discuss sentencing for the charge, but scheduled another hearing for report and formal disposition on February 21. The juvenile will remain in custody until that time.
Anthony Wright, defense attorney for the second defendant to appear, noted that his client had undergone an evaluation and was deemed competent to proceed.
“My client may have learned quite a few things since I spoke to him,” Wright told the judge. He added that the defense and prosecution “may be reaching a settlement in this matter.” That defendant will return to court for a status check on February 7.
Both of those defendants appeared virtually but had a handful of family members present in the gallery. Jonathan Lewis’ mother and aunt also attended the hearing via video call.
Defense attorney Edward Miley represented the third defendant of the day and addressed the unique nature of his client immediately.
“This is a very different case than most cases we get,” he explained to the court. He noted that the defendant had undergone a psychiatric evaluation that showed he had “the intellectual capacity of a first grader.”
Miley went on to say that the juvenile also suffers from physical handicaps and that he witnessed his father killed in front of him as a child. Miley was joined by a defense psychiatric expert and the team asked the court for further evaluation of the boy. Prosecutor Summer Clarke had no objection to the request, and Judge Mastin ordered a comprehensive clinical evaluation of the defendant.
Judge Mastin explained to Lewis’ family members that this was not done to delay the case, but that it would effectively do so as the court waited for the results of the evaluation. That defendant will return for a court appearance on February 28.
“There may be some exculpatory evidence,” Miley added, referring to alleged video of the gym area at Rancho High School from the day of or the days before Lewis’ death. Mastin said that the court would “let all of that unfold” at the next hearing.
The attorney for the fourth defendant acknowledged that this juvenile had also undergone a psychiatric evaluation and that they were considering a plea offer from the state. He will return to court on February 7.
Four older teens were charged as adults for Lewis’ murder and were recently indicted by a grand jury. They are due back in Clark County District Court in March, with a tentative trial date set for April 1.
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