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Juvenile pleads guilty in Rancho High fatal beating

Updated January 31, 2024 - 8:05 pm

One of the teenagers arrested in connection with the fatal beating death of a Rancho High School student pleaded guilty in juvenile court on Wednesday.

The teen waived his right to a trial, pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. His name has not been publicly released because he was one of five teenagers whose cases remain in the Family Court system because of their ages.

Nine teenagers were arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of 17-year-old Jonathan Lewis, who was attacked near the Rancho High School Campus on Nov. 1. Lewis died of his injuries six days later.

The teenagers who were arrested ranged in age from 13 to 17. Four of the teens who are 16 or older were automatically sent to the adult court system to face murder charges. Prosecutors were pursuing certification hearings for the younger defendants, which is when a judge determines if they will be tried as adults.

The defendant who pleaded guilty on Wednesday will be sent to a state juvenile correctional facility overseen by the Division of Child and Family Services. Children adjudicated guilty in the juvenile court system are not sentenced to remain in custody for a set amount of time but will instead be released after completing rehabilitation programs while in custody, said Brigid Duffy, the director of the Clark County district attorney’s office’s juvenile division.

On average, a juvenile will spent about nine months in custody completing the programs, depending on their behavior, Duffy said. But defendants can be held in custody until they are 21 and will often see a judge before they are released.

The four teenagers already in the adult court system — Treavion Randolph, 16; Dontral Beaver, 16; Damien Hernandez, 18; and Gianni Robinson, 17 — were indicted on second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit battery charges earlier this month. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Investigators have said Lewis was attacked by a group of up to 10 teenagers during a confrontation after school hours. The fatal beating was captured on a video that showed the teens stomping, kicking and punching Lewis until he fell unconscious.

Surveillance footage and cellphone videos of the fight have been entered as evidence in the case. The videos showed a group of teenagers walking into an alleyway near the school when Lewis pushed a student. He then took off his sweatshirt and punched a different student before being swarmed by a group of teenagers who attacked him, a Metropolitan Police Department officer testified during a grand jury hearing earlier this month.

Four of the five teenagers who remain in the juvenile court system appeared in court on Wednesday. Attorneys for two of the teens said they were considering plea deals, although the lawyers did not elaborate on the details.

“That offer is being considered seriously,” attorney Richard Bryant told Family Court Judge Amy Mastin during his client’s hearing.

Attorney Edward Miley asked for a more extensive competency evaluation for his teenage client, who he said had the “intellectual capacity of a first grader.” The judge directed Miley to find an expert who could be paid by the county to perform the evaluation.

Mastin ordered another hearing on Feb. 7 for the two defendants who were considering plea deals, according to their attorneys.

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

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