One of four suspects in the shooting death of a 24-year-old nursing student claims Las Vegas police coaxed him and his younger brother into making false confessions.
“They keep on saying that I did something that I didn’t do,” Demario Lofton-Robinson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal during a jailhouse interview Wednesday.
Police arrested Lofton-Robinson, 18, and his brother a day after the Aug. 9 shooting death. On Tuesday, police booked Raekwon Robertson, 20, and Davontae Wheeler, 22, into the Clark County Detention Center.
Each of the four defendants faces a murder charge and several counts of robbery in the killing of Gabriel George Valenzuela, police said.
Just after midnight on Aug. 9, Valenzuela pulled into the driveway at his central valley home in the 5500 block of West Dewey Drive. He checked the mail before getting into a confrontation with four young men, police said.
He was shot at least three times and died at the hospital. Police said two shooters may have been involved.
During Wednesday’s interview at the county jail, Lofton-Robinson refused to answer multiple questions about the facts of the case without an attorney present.
He insisted that police manipulated their interviews with him and his 14-year-old brother, who he said has a mild form of autism. His brother may not have understood police questioning, Lofton-Robinson said, adding that his brother has the mental capacity of a 10- or 11-year-old.
Lofton-Robinson said he repeatedly told detectives he wanted an attorney present before answering questions. Police continued to ask leading questions, he said, and at one point told him he was not going to leave before he gave a statement.
The suspect said he eventually started lying to police as a way to speed up the interview process and leave. He said police took that as a confession.
“I never confessed to anything,” he said.
According to a police report, a witness jogging around the neighborhood saw four men in dark clothing standing in front of Valenzuela’s residence and “acting suspiciously.” The witness also saw an unoccupied white Mercury Grand Marquis.
The description of the vehicle matched that of a vehicle in a surveillance video at a convenience store that showed four male occupants entering the store a couple hours before the killing, the report said. Police used that information to make the arrests.
Lofton-Robinson said he was at the convenience store buying a cigarette with his younger brother, Robertson and Wheeler. After that, he said, he dropped Robertson and Wheeler off at a house to “meet some girls” they knew, and then took himself and his brother home.
Police documents indicate Lofton-Robinson told detectives he shot at Valenzuela once during a botched robbery. His brother told police he got scared and turned around as the group of four approached Valenzuela.
Valenzuela was a nursing student at the College of Southern Nevada and lived with his family at the West Dewey Drive address. His family was inside during the shooting and heard the gunshots, police Lt. Dan McGrath said.
When asked about Valenzuela on Wednesday, Lofton-Robinson appeared confused and said he did not know who that was.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” he later said, directing his comments to Valenzuela’s family. “But I’m innocent.”
Contact Mike Shoro at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter. Contact Max Michor at email@example.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter. Review-Journal writer Isabelle Delgado contributed to this story.