Teens not in gangs, defense says

Attorneys representing two teenagers charged in connection with the slaying of Palo Verde High School freshman Christopher Privett attempted Friday to show that their clients did not belong to a street gang, an issue that could enhance their sentences if they are convicted.

The preliminary hearing for Gerald Q. Davison, 16, and Ezekiel Williams, 18, who are charged with murder with a deadly weapon in connection with the Feb. 15 drive-by shooting near Palo Verde High School, is expected to wrap up Monday. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa will then decide whether the state offered enough evidence to hold a trial.

Police say Williams was the driver and Davison a passenger when they drove past Privett and three friends walking home from school. Witnesses who testified during the preliminary hearing said one of Privett’s friends had jokingly flashed a gang sign.

One teen in Privett’s group also shouted, “(Expletive) the Squad, this is HTO,” Metropolitan Police Department Detective Clifford Mogg said, referring to the hybrid street gang Squad Up and its rival, Hustlers Taking Over.

Williams, Davison and Mandesha Walker, also a passenger in the vehicle, saw the sign, and Williams made a U-turn. Davison is accused of firing four to five shots out the window of the car, striking Privett in the chest.

“He said he intended to scare them,” Mogg said of Davison.

The detectives who testified Friday indicated that Williams and Davison were members of Squad Up.

Attorney Brent Bryson, who represents Williams, asked the detectives whether they had personal knowledge that the two teens were involved in gangs.

Mogg testified that acquaintances of Davison and Williams said the two “claimed” Squad Up, a term that he learned meant they either belonged to or were associated with the gang.

Detective James Fink, a nine-year member of the gang unit, said Davison and Williams never appeared on the department’s list of gang members. He said neither of the teens admitted to belonging to Squad Up.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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