Updated November 21, 2023 - 8:42 pm
Four teens arrested in connection with the fatal group beating of a Rancho High School student have been formally charged with second-degree murder.
Dontral Beaver, 16, Damien Hernandez, 17, Gianni Robinson, 17, and Treavion Randolph, 16, are being tried as adults after their cases were automatically sent to the adult court system last week.
A ninth teenager also has been arrested in connection with the death of Jonathan Lewis Jr., 17, who was attacked by a group of about 10 teenagers during a fight off Rancho High School’s campus on Nov. 1. A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department said Tuesday that she did not know when the ninth juvenile was arrested.
Investigators are still searching for a 10th suspect believed to have been involved in the beating, and Metro released updated photos of the teenager on Tuesday afternoon.
Following a brief court appearance on Tuesday, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson announced that the four juveniles have been charged with second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit battery resulting in substantial bodily harm. The four were also ordered to be transferred back to the Juvenile Detention Center to be held in custody without bail, although they will still be tried as adults.
Beaver, Hernandez, Robinson and Randolph were all arrested last week along with four other teenagers in connection with Lewis’ death.
The four teens who appeared in court Tuesday are being tried as adults because they are 16 or older. The other teenagers will need to face a certification hearing in juvenile court for a judge to determine if they will be tried as adults.
Second-degree murder charges
Wolfson said that prosecutors filed second-degree murder charges because a first-degree murder charge requires prosecutors to prove there was premeditation.
“I reviewed all of the evidence yesterday with my colleagues, with Metropolitan Police Department detectives, and we didn’t feel that there was that advanced premeditation,” Wolfson said.
The fatal beating was captured on a video that showed a group of teenagers continuing to punch, kick and stomp Lewis until he fell unconscious. He died on Nov. 7.
“I’ve been told that the videos that have been released are incomplete,” attorney Robert Draskovich, who was appointed to represent Robinson, told reporters Tuesday. “I’ll be going through all the videos with my investigator to see what really happened.”
Police have said that a group of teens set up the fight after school after a pair of wireless headphones, and possibly a marijuana vape pen, were taken from either Lewis or his friends earlier in the week. A video of the attack shows Lewis taking off his clothing to prepare for the fight, and then 10 others swarming him after a punch was thrown, Metro Lt. Jason Johansson has said.
Family members of the suspects also attended Tuesday’s court hearing, when Justice of the Peace Nadia Wood asked the teenagers if they understood the charges they were facing. The teens were ordered to appear in court again on Dec. 14 for a status check on the discovery process.
Wolfson said it was a “sad day” in court because of the reminder that Lewis lost his life in the attack.
“That family was shattered, and all the other families and their lives have been shattered as well,” Wolfson said. “So it’s a sad day that all this happened. But at the end of the day, I believe there have to be consequences.”
At around 5 p.m. Tuesday, about 100 people gathered in the alley where a group of teens had beaten Lewis, near Searles Avenue and 21st Street, for a prayer vigil led by local organizations that included Moms for Liberty.
Mourners held candles and placed white flowers on a memorial set up on the ground for Lewis. Several speakers led the crowd in prayer.
Jonathan Lewis Sr. thanked those who gathered to honor his son. He called on children and parents to unite as a community to prevent violence.
“This is absolute lunacy,” Lewis Sr. said. “This is a reflection in our youth of our broader society and how we are behaving.”
Contact Katelyn Newberg at email@example.com or 702-383-0240. Review-Journal staff reporter David Wilson contributed to this report.