LAS VEGAS (AP) — Four Las Vegas high school students who are facing murder charges in the fatal beating of their classmate are due in court Friday for their first appearances in the adult court system.
The students each face one count of murder but have not been formally charged, court records show. The Associated Press is not naming them because they are juveniles.
Earlier this week, Las Vegas police announced the arrests of eight students, between the ages of 13 and 17, in connection with the Nov. 1 brawl that left 17-year-old Jonathan Lewis Jr. dead.
Authorities have said students at Rancho High School in eastern Las Vegas had agreed to meet after school let out that day in an alleyway around the corner from campus to fight over a pair of wireless headphones and a vape pen.
The fight was captured on cellphone video and widely shared across social media. Las Vegas police said they are still working to identify and locate two more students seen in the footage taking part in the beating. Homicide Lt. Jason Johansson said the two remaining students also will face murder charges.
In Nevada, teenagers 16 or older accused of murder are automatically transferred to the adult court system. That’s why a family court judge on Wednesday transferred the cases of the four students. Police records show that two of them are 17, and the other two 16, including one who turned 16 on the day of the fight.
As for the other four students who are under 16, hearings known as certification proceedings will be held at later dates to determine if they will be charged as adults.
By law in Nevada, a teenager accused of murder can be charged as an adult if they were 13 or older at the time of the alleged crime.
Police said they believe a pair of wireless headphones and vape pen had been stolen from the victim’s friend earlier in the week, which resulted in the students agreeing to meet in the alleyway to fight.
Detectives think the victim wasn’t originally supposed to be involved in the brawl, but he walked to the alleyway with his friend after school, Johansson said.
The victim’s father, Jonathan Lewis Sr., said on a fundraising page created to help with funeral and medical costs that his son was attacked while standing up for his friend.
Johansson said the video of the brawl shows the victim taking off his shirt to prepare for the fight, and then the 10 students “immediately swarm him, pull him to the ground and begin kicking, punching and stomping on him.”
He called the video “very void of humanity” and said the victim was not defending himself as he was being attacked.
After the brawl, a person in the area found the victim badly beaten and unconscious and carried him back to campus, where school staff called 911, Johansson said.
Lewis Jr. was hospitalized with severe head trauma and other injuries and died a week later, according to the coroner’s office in Las Vegas.