Resendiz prosecution waiting for Supreme Court decision

Two years after the beating death of Sammy Resendiz, there has been no justice. Not for the family of the victim. Not for 10 defendants awaiting trial.

Instead, the case is in limbo pending a Supreme Court decision. Resendiz's two children, family and friends continue to mourn their loss, and those charged with the death ponder the possibility of life in prison.

"Common sense would tell you we are not taking the anniversary well," said Jody Hernandez, friend of Resendiz and spokeswoman for the family. "It's hard, but we understand that things take time.

"They're still free. But when the slow wheels of justice finally do turn, they will be the ones mourning."

Hernandez said Resendiz's 8-year-old son Sammy and 6-year-old daughter Gabby are still having trouble getting used to life without their father.

"Sammy seems to be adjusting better, but he is very angry," she said. "Gabby is very standoffish, but it is out of her control."

The defendants that remain charged in the death are Rocky Boice Jr., 21; Julian Contreras, 17; Lew Dutchy, 26; Jessica Evans, 22; Elvin Fred, 18; Frederick Fred, 20; Sylvia Fred, 19; Jaron Malone, 19; Clint Malone, 17; and 16-year-old Mike Kizer. All the defendants - members of Carson City's American Indian community - are out on bail.

Sammy Resendiz, 25, at the time of his death, was severely beaten at the Round House Inn on Aug. 23, 1998. He suffered several broken bones and head trauma. He died at the hospital a few hours later. The incident was reportedly related to a conflict between Evans and an associate of Resendiz.

Alejandro Avila, 23, and David Moyle, 20, were also arrested after the incident. They pleaded guilty to lesser charges and were both given probationary sentences.

Hernandez said family members will meet privately on Monday to remember Resendiz.

Also in limbo are the lives of the defendants in the case.

Most are in school, some have gone away to college. All are living with the knowledge that if they are found guilty of murder, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

"What are these young kids who are becoming adults supposed to do?" said Terry Boice, mother of Rocky Jr. "Their lives are hanging there, but we feel confident that if it comes down to the evidence, they will be freed."

She said the family was dismayed to see Judge Michael Fondi leave his post in district court and hope to have him preside as a senior judge when the Supreme Court decides how the case should proceed.

Judges Michael Griffin and Bill Maddox will likely be disqualify themselves because of conflicts.

District Attorney Noel Waters appealed a Feb. 17 decision by Fondi to lower the charges from first- to second-degree murder. If he is successful, the case will be returned to a Carson City courtroom with the previous charges reinstated.

Although the appeal is on a "fast track" in the state's highest court, there is no date by which it must be decided.

For now, Boice said, the tribal community is concerned about gang members coming around the colony. She said tension over the case has made them more aware of threats of revenge. "We need help from Sheriff (Rod) Banister," she said. "We've been asking for help since 1995."

She said the Indians being accused in the death were misidentified as gang members by local law enforcement and media.

Meanwhile, Hernandez, as a member of Carson City's Mexican community, she said the lack of gang-related incidents in Carson City is a sign that aversion programs, law enforcement and parents are getting a better understanding of the gang problems.

"The parents are taking more of an active stance," she said. "Between the parents, courts and the community, it's being stomped out."

Resendiz was one of the founding members of the East Wood Tokers gang. At the time of his death, his family said, he was no longer active in the gang.


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