Family members and friends of 10 people on trial for the August 1998 murder of Sammy Resendiz say the defendants have been badly portrayed and mistreated by the press, the public and the sheriff's department.
Terry Boice, mother of 21-year-old defendant Rocky Boice Jr., said the American Indian community in Carson City has for years been accused of gang affiliation and told that their problems with crime were not a priority.
"If you don't live here and you don't see it, then it's hard to understand what we go through," she said. "When we call the sheriff's department, they either don't take our statements, or they say, 'What are we supposed to do?'
"They won't even patrol here," she said.
Boice said that since the arrest of her son and the other 11 defendants in the case, law enforcement and prosecutors sought to portray the Indian youths as a threat to the community's welfare.
Terry, her husband Rocky Sr., Pam Thompson and Karen Talas made the accusations in response to a recent interview with Jose Resendiz, Sammy's brother, and Jody Hernandez, a family friend.
Resendiz and Hernandez talked about the life of the slain 25-year-old and argued that they too have not been given a fair portrayal in public opinion. They were objecting to a Feb. 18 decision by Judge Michael Fondi to lower the charges for all 10 defendants from first- to second-degree murder.
The trial is currently being postponed pending a Nevada Supreme Court decision on an appeal filed by District Attorney Noel Waters.
Hernandez said she wanted people to know that Sammy was more than an "ex-gang member," as he has been portrayed in the press.
Terry and Rocky Boice said they have experienced a similar problems in the portrayal of their son and his associates over the last few years.
"They have darker skin and they hang together," Rocky said. "It's just the skin color that concerns some people.
"Everybody was guilty by association and these kids were just rounded up. But the bottom line is that these kids are facing life in prison. Indian people do more time than anybody."
Rocky said justice in the case will be served when the "truth comes out and they are set free." He said there is no hard evidence and only second-hand testimony that places them at the scene of the crime.
And the threat of retribution for the alleged murder also hangs over the defendants' heads, Rocky said. "Not only do we have to deal with the justice system, we have to deal with the gang if they are not happy with sentencing."
Boice said through the years the Tokers have been an albatross for the community.
"They are asking this town to have sympathy for one of the founders of the Tokers, but what about the hardship that that the Tokers have brought to this town over the years?"