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4 teens plead not guilty to Rancho High fatal beating

Updated January 25, 2024 - 7:24 pm

Four teenagers indicted in the fatal beating of a Rancho High School student pleaded not guilty to murder charges on Thursday.

Treavion Randolph, 16; Dontral Beaver, 16; Damien Hernandez, 18; and Gianni Robinson, 17; are four of the nine teenagers arrested in connection with the killing of 17-year-old Jonathan Lewis. The four teens were indicted this month on charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit battery resulting in substantial bodily harm.

They are the only suspects currently facing charges as adults. The other teenagers who were arrested remain in the juvenile court system.

Randolph, Beaver, Hernandez and Robinson pleaded not guilty on Thursday during an arraignment hearing before District Judge Tierra Jones.

Beaver and Robinson invoked their right to a speedy trial, while the other two defendants waived that right.

Investigators have said Lewis was attacked by a group of up to 10 teenagers on Nov. 1 near Rancho High School’s campus. The fatal beating was captured on a video that showed the teens stomping, kicking and punching Lewis until he fell unconscious. He died of his injuries six days later.

Surveillance footage and cellphone videos of the fight that have been used as evidence by prosecutors were released Thursday by District Court. The footage showed a group of teenagers walking into the alleyway near the school when Lewis pushed a student.

Lewis then took off his sweatshirt, punched a different student and was quickly swarmed by a group of teenagers who attacked him, a Metropolitan Police Department homicide detective testified during a grand jury hearing earlier this month.

The videos also showed the group of teens punching a different student, who was nearly pushed into a nearby dumpster. The detective testified that the other teenager who was attacked was one of Lewis’ friends, who was armed with a small knife during the confrontation, according to court transcripts of the hearing.

“You’ll see it a couple of times in other videos that we’ll receive, but at no time does it appear that he strikes anybody with a blade,” the detective testified.

The teenager who was pushed by Lewis at the beginning of the confrontation was Robinson, who also gave a statement to investigators, the detective said.

“Gianni said that he had been harassed by Jonathan before for stealing a wax pen or a marijuana vape or something to that respect and he was confronted by Jonathan and an adult female in regard to it,” according to court transcripts.

Robinson told police that he did not take anything from Lewis, and “thought that was the end of it.” He said that after Lewis pushed him, “before he knew it everybody came and jumped in.”

He told police he “got his licks in” during the attack because he felt threatened, according to the court transcripts.

Robinson is accused of stomping on Lewis and punching him. Beaver, one of the first people involved in the attack, was seen in the video punching Lewis and using the fence as leverage to stomp on him, according to the court transcripts. Both Hernandez and Randolph are accused of coming into the fight after it first started, and both kicked Lewis, the detective testified to the grand jury.

Jones ordered a Feb. 22 status check in the District Court case. Randolph, Beaver and Robinson all remain in custody, while Hernandez has been released after posting bond on a $100,000 bail.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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