Four Las Vegas High School Students Charged as Adults in Fatal Beating of Classmate

makeshift memorial for a high school student lines a fence along an alleyway near Rancho High School.

In a recent development in Las Vegas, prosecutors have charged four high school students as adults in connection with the murder of their classmate, 17-year-old Jonathan Lewis Jr. The charges stem from a brutal fight, captured on cellphone video and widely circulated on social media, leading to a broader discussion on youth violence.

The students, two aged 16 and two aged 17, are facing second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit battery charges. After a court session, District Attorney Steve Wolfson explained the decision not to pursue first-degree murder charges, citing the lack of premeditation evident in the evidence.

These teens, initially held in the county jail, will be transferred to a juvenile detention center for their safety. This decision follows a joint request by prosecutors and defense attorneys and reflects the ongoing concerns about the treatment of young offenders in adult facilities.

This case has seen the arrest of at least eight students, aged 13 to 17, in relation to the November 1 brawl that resulted in Lewis’s death. Those under 16 await separate hearings. The Associated Press, adhering to its policy, has not disclosed the names of these juveniles.

Wolfson, speaking to reporters, mentioned the recent arrest of an additional student involved in the incident. Las Vegas police, who believe ten students participated in the attack, are continuing their efforts to identify and apprehend all involved. The specifics of a ninth arrest remain unconfirmed by the police department.

The tragic events unfolded at Rancho High School in east Las Vegas, where students agreed to an off-campus fight over alleged stolen items, including wireless headphones and a vape pen. Police Lt. Jason Johansson described the harrowing scene captured in the video, depicting the victim preparing to fight before being swarmed, pulled to the ground, and viciously attacked by the group.

Lewis suffered severe head trauma and other injuries, leading to his death a week later, as confirmed by the Las Vegas coroner’s office.

In Nevada, teens accused of murder at age 13 or older can be charged as adults, but are entitled to a certification hearing to determine if their case should be transferred to adult court. However, for those 16 or older, this hearing is not required, explaining the direct adult charges for the four older students in this case.

Defense attorney Robert Draskovich, representing one of the 17-year-olds, has raised concerns about the completeness of the social media videos of the fight. He plans a thorough review of all available footage to understand the full context of the incident.

Lt. Johansson provided additional background, stating that the confrontation was arranged after items were reportedly stolen from the victim’s friend earlier in the week. Detectives believe Lewis was not the original target but joined his friend in the alleyway after school where the fight took place.

A fundraising page has been set up to assist with Lewis’s funeral and medical expenses. His father, Jonathan Lewis Sr., shared that his son was attacked while defending his friend. The family has not provided further comments to the media.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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