No one was charged in the shooting death of 16-year-old Aric Brill for seven years, but court documents indicate that a man told a fellow jail inmate specific details about the killing a month after it happened.
The man, Nadin Corey Hiko, and three others were indicted on murder charges last week.
Behind bars in March 2009 on separate robbery charges, Hiko, also known as Nadim Hiko, disclosed to a cellmate that he had shot and killed someone at a party in the northeast valley, according to grand jury transcripts recently made public.
The cellmate, Edward Kruse, wrote letters to Las Vegas police, who initially dismissed the confession, in part because the killers were described as black men. 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 them as they tried to run away. Bentley suffered critical injuries, including a collapsed lung, but survived.
At night, the area is pitch black.
When the teens were shot, the area had no street lights.
Terrell Moore, who also attended the party, testified last month that there was limited lighting outside the house party. He said he heard about 15 shots from one gun, but all the robbers, whom he described as “dark-skinned type of black,” were armed.
“The reason we couldn’t make them out is because it was dark outside,” Moore said.
Another man from the party, Angelo Gilbert, described the shooter as a “dark-skinned male,” though he said he did not get a good look at the gunman’s face.
Hiko, now 26, and three others — Arthur E. Moore, 28, Devonte Wash, 26, and Davon Sebastian Phillips, 26 — are expected to make their first court appearance in the murder case Wednesday.
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.
Kruse, who is no longer behind bars, testified that Hiko even named Arthur Moore as one of the men who was with him at the Feb. 20, 2009, party.
“He told me that they usually done this like go rob people at parties or whatever,” Kruse said. “And they pulled up to this one and there was people going into the party and they got out and they went to rob whoever they could, and everybody scattered. And one of the guys got shot from — Hiko said he shot him in the back of the head.”
That description of the shooting lines up with testimony from at least four others who attended the party, including Bentley, who was shot three times in the back and arm.
Hiko even told his cellmate the caliber of the guns used, according to grand jury testimony.
“At first I didn’t believe it, and then he started giving me details,” Kruse said, “and I didn’t ask for none of that.”
Kruse wrote homicide detectives several letters, hoping for a deal. He met with detectives, but no one contacted him after that until February of this year.
Hiko, Phillips and Arthur Moore were sent to prison for unrelated robbery convictions in 2010, and the murder case lingered unsolved.
Prosecutors said last week that without the persistence of the victim’s mother, Karen Brill-Kelley, 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.
As recently as the grand jury hearing last month, one of those at the party, Shannon Williams-Sutton, refused to answer a prosecutor’s questions when called to court.
“I don’t want to go there,” Williams-Sutton said. “I don’t want to relive it no more. Just let me go home.”
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said that earlier this year authorities decided to dig back into the case, which had gone cold years ago, after they were “re-energized” by Brill-Kelley, who never stopped hounding detectives.
Brill-Kelley would call police at least twice a year, checking for developments. More often, she would drive to the corner of the east Las Vegas Valley where her son was gunned down.
She described her son as a spiritual teen, an organ donor and a community volunteer who tutored non-English-speaking peers.
“There were times I didn’t think (the arrests) were going to happen,” Brill-Kelley said. “And that became very heavy on me. And that kept me going, too. I couldn’t bear the thought of dying without knowing who killed my son and making sure they paid for what they did.”
The four defendants 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.
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 on March 7.
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