Days before the murder trial for two teenage defendants was to begin, prosecutors on Thursday dismissed the charges alleging the pair fatally shot a 16-year-old girl at an east valley bus stop in May.
After a brief hearing, Judge Valorie Vega ordered Tyrone White, 14, and Christian Shannon, 18, freed from jail after learning a prosecutor's concern about the credibility of the key witness in the case.
White and Shannon had been jailed since they were arrested in June.
Randii Lennette Morrow's death on May 15 outraged family members, friends and Las Vegas police detectives who insisted she was not the intended target of the shooting.
Detectives had worked the case for weeks when Morrow's boyfriend, Anthony Wright, changed his story and identified White and Shannon as the shooters. Police suspected Wright was the intended target of the shooting.
But Wright's credibility has been called into question, prosecutor David Stanton said.
While the case was dropped, Stanton noted there was some evidence that cast suspicion on the two teens, but he did not think there was enough to take the case to trial.
Stanton said the alibis proffered by the two defendants and their families were not "ironclad" and could not exclude them as suspects.
Defense attorney Robert Draskovich said that several eyewitnesses could not identify the two teens in lineups.
And, Draskovich said, Wright had reasons to lie to police about who the shooters were. He would not discuss those reasons.
After the hearing, Draskovich said the two defendants had taken a polygraph test that showed there was "no deception indicated" when they denied any involvement in the shooting.
Later Thursday, Las Vegas police homicide Lt. Lew Roberts said the two teens continue to be the main suspects in the case and that detectives are still trying to identify new evidence against them.
Roberts said detectives had continued to investigate the case because of their own concerns about the evidence.
On May 15, Morrow was with Wright, waiting at a bus stop about 10:15 p.m. at 2730 E. Bonanza Road, east of Eastern Avenue. Two males approached them and fired multiple shots.
Wright and Morrow ran away, but Morrow was shot in the neck and died at University Medical Center.
A 10-year-old boy also was injured in the shooting. He received minor cuts when a stray bullet entered his apartment and shattered a television.
Wright initially told detectives he did not know who fired the shots, court documents show.
Then Wright fled Las Vegas. In June, he contacted detectives who went to visit him in Louisiana, court documents show.
Wright's story changed. He said he knew who shot at him and why. He also said he didn't tell police at first because he wanted vengeance for his dead girlfriend.
Wright said that days before the shooting, he, Morrow, and Morrow's sister got into a fistfight with White, Shannon and White's family, including his mother.
Wright said he was told White had a gun.
Wright said he then bought a revolver for $100 to protect himself.
At a hearing in June, Wright, who had no known job, refused to tell defense attorneys where he got the money to buy the gun.
He also refused to identify the person who sold him the gun, other than to say he is known as "C.J."
Wright said he first saw White and Shannon on the night of the shooting at a closed KFC restaurant near Bonanza and Eastern.
Wright said that the two teens fired guns at him and that he returned fire.
There has been no concrete evidence that shows an earlier shooting occurred , court documents show.
Wright and Morrow then went to the bus stop on Bonanza.
Wright said he dumped the gun in a trash can and waited for the bus with his girlfriend.
The revolver was later found with four spent casings.
Before the bus arrived, two males dressed in hooded sweat shirts and shorts shot at them from across the street.
Wright testified at a hearing that he knew White and was familiar with Shannon and identified them to detectives.
White used to date Morrow's younger sister, who was one of several people involved in the fisticuffs days earlier.
Both White and Shannon adamantly denied involvement in the shooting during interviews with homicide detectives.
White wept while telling detectives he didn't "wanna go to jail for something he didn't do."
During interviews with the suspects, detectives said they had plenty of evidence, including a number of witnesses who said they did it. White and Shannon continued to deny any involvement.
Police interviewed nearby residents who offered vague descriptions of the shooters, but none could positively identify the two, court documents show.
White and Shannon were to be released from custody late Thursday.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.