July 13, 2016 - 6:45 pm
Four men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other charges that stem from the 2009 shootings of two teenagers outside a house party in northeast Las Vegas. One of the victims died.
The defendants entered their pleas during their first court appearance in the case.
Family and friends of 16-year-old Aric Brill, who was shot and killed outside the party, attended the brief hearing. The victim’s mother, Karen Brill-Kelley, and father, Donald Brill, stood throughout the proceeding, clutching a photo of their son.
The four defendants — Nadin Corey Hiko, 26, also known as Nadim; Arthur E. Moore, 28; Devonte Wash, 26; and Davon Sebastian Phillips, 26 — each face charges of murder with a deadly weapon, attempted murder with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and robbery with a deadly weapon.
A friend of Brill since 1999, Michael Martial rose from his seat in the courtroom gallery and eyed Hiko, who smirked and made hand gestures during the hearing.
“I don’t think he understands how he ruined and altered people’s lives,” Martial said. “I wanted him to feel that it shows in his face and by his actions that he’s guilty. No innocent person would be doing the shenanigans he’s doing.”
Defense lawyers for the men declined to comment.
Behind bars in March 2009 on separate robbery charges, Hiko disclosed to a cellmate that he had shot and killed someone, according to grand jury transcripts recently made public.
But the killing went uncharged for more than seven years, as police initially dismissed the confession because witnesses described four black gunmen. Hiko is white.
Brill was attacked and shot in the back of the head outside a house party on Beesley Drive, near Charleston and Nellis boulevards.
Witnesses told a Clark County grand jury that the gunmen approached Brill and then 19-year-old Joseph Bentley, pulled out handguns and shot the pair as they tried to run away. Bentley suffered critical injuries, including a collapsed lung, but survived.
Police have said the shooting was a random act of violence motivated by a robbery and was gang-related. The defendants have been linked to the Squad Up gang, authorities said.
Hiko, Phillips and Arthur Moore were sent to prison for unrelated robbery convictions in 2010.
Prosecutors said last week that without the persistence of the victim’s mother, authorities may have never charged anyone in the slaying of her son.
Several people witnessed the shooting, prosecutors said, but those who saw what happened might have been reluctant to name suspects in the days and months that followed because of the gang connections.
Hiko was arrested in March on another robbery charge and also is awaiting trial in that case. Prosecutors said he and a woman stole a $48,000 Audemar Piguet watch, $10,000 cash and an iPhone from a man at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on March 7.
Speaking to a gaggle of reporters Wednesday afternoon at Metro headquarters, Lt. Laz Chavez, police interviewed suspects during the past few months.
“As things began to develop and unravel, it was pretty clear to us who the suspects were in the murder,” Chavez said.
He said investigators are looking into a possible fifth suspect and called the defendants “career criminals,” some of whom are providing information and “want to help themselves.”
“They’ve since been in trouble committing other violent crimes,” he said. “It’s the focus of our agency to go after them. Even back then, they were violent.”
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