Gang-member murder trial back on track

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After two years of arraignments, scheduling conflicts and the retirement of the presiding judge, the trial of 10 defendants accused in the 1998 beating death of Sammy Resendiz is back on track for a March 2001 trial.

Lawyers met in District Judge Michael Griffin's courtroom Monday to set motion and trial dates - and to discuss the possibility of splitting the defendants' cases into manageable numbers.

Although no motion for separating the cases is currently filed, Griffin said the court and a jury might have trouble keeping track of the defendants' names and faces.

"I would have to build a bleacher, I think," he said.

The case has been in limbo since District Attorney Noel Waters filed an appeal challenging Judge Michael Fondi's decision to lower the charges of all 10 defendants from first- to second-degree murder. The decision is still under consideration in the Nevada Supreme Court.

Griffin said hearing 40-plus motions that remain undecided should not conflict with the decision of the state's high court. Motions will be presented in his courtroom on Oct. 23, Nov. 16 and Nov. 17.

Three weeks were also tentatively set aside for a trial starting March 13, 2001. Griffin said it will go as scheduled if the Supreme Court makes a decision by Feb. 16 on Waters' appeal.

Waters told Griffin he will file a motion to separate the cases of the defendants in the near future.

He suggested that the request, if granted, would split the defendants into three groups.

In one group, Jaron Malone, 19, Rocky Boice Jr., 21, Frederick Fred, 20, and Lew Dutchy, 26, would be tried together.

In another Jessica Evans, 22, and Julian Contreras, 17, would be together, and the final group would be Clint Malone, 17, Elvin Fred, 18, Sylvia Fred, 19, and Michael Kizer, 16.

The two-year anniversary of Resendiz's death passed Aug. 23. According to reports, he was accosted in a Round House Inn motel room and severely beaten on the head and body. He died a few hours later at the hospital. A second man, Carlos Lainez, was injured in the same assault.

Resendiz, 25 at the time of his death, was a former member of the East Wood Tokers gang.

In the time that has passed, most of the defendants have gone back to school and work. Some have left the area with the court's permission. Twelve suspect's were originally charged after the beating. Alejandro Avila, 22, and David Moyle, 18, were given probationary sentences after pleading guilty to lesser charges.

All of the defendants are free on bail.


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