4 indicted in death of Arizona teen Preston Lord


Three teenagers and a 20-year-old man have been indicted in the death of an Arizona 16-year-old boy who was found badly beaten outside a Halloween party last year, the Maricopa County prosecutor said.

The beating of Preston Lord, 16, who died two days after he was found on a road in Queen Creek on Oct. 28, prompted calls for more police action against group violence by teenagers in that and other nearby cities.

“These four indictments are just the start,” Queen Creek Police Chief Randy Brice said at a news conference. He said the police department is still working to make more arrests.

The defendants — William Owen Hines, 18, and Dominic Turner, 20, as well as two 17-year-olds — are all charged with first-degree murder or, in the alternative, second-degree murder, as well as kidnapping, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said. Turner is also charged with robbery, she said.

All four indicted in Preston’s death are being charged as adults, Mitchell said. NBC News is not naming the 17-year-olds because they are minors.

Preston Lord.
Preston Lord.Queen Creek Police Department

Mitchell called the investigation “extremely complex” and said it involved thousands of pages of police reports and around 600 videos.

Preston was found in a roadway at around 9:49 p.m. Oct. 28, police said, after officers had previously been dispatched to the area for a reported juvenile disturbance. He was taken to a hospital and died two days later.

At the time of the earlier call, at around 9:07 p.m., officers saw a large number of juveniles leaving but observed no illegal activity, and they went to another call, police have said.

Last month, the medical examiner delivered a final report that ruled the manner of Preston’s death a homicide. Authorities have not released a cause of death.

The criminal cases did not appear to be in online Maricopa County court records, and it was not clear whether any defendants had attorneys who could speak on their behalf. An attorney for Hines in two other cases said he did not represent Hines in the murder case.

“We extend heartfelt gratitude to the community members who stepped up to provide information to secure these arrests,” Preston’s parents, Nick Lord and Autumn Curiel, said in a statement distributed by their lawyer.

“But for law enforcement’s collective efforts and community members’ invaluable cooperation, these arrests would not have happened,” they said. “Each arrest represents a step towards accountability and justice for our son Preston.”

An investigative grand jury has been reviewing the case since Feb. 7, Mitchell said. After the indictments were returned Wednesday, Queen Creek police arrested three of the four suspects; Hines was already in custody, her office said.

Following Preston’s death and other assaults, police in the neighboring city of Gilbert have been looking at past cases of teenage group violence, including a gang investigation into a group called the “Gilbert Goons.”

Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg and other officials did not say that any of the four are associated with such a group.

There are 12 active investigations into group teen violence in Gilbert, Soelberg said Wednesday after the indictments in the Lord case were announced.

Hines is the only one of the four suspects who has criminal cases against him in Gilbert as an adult: three aggravated assault cases, two of which allegedly happened earlier but were not reported until December and January, Soelberg said.

Anger in the community over Preston’s death prompted a kind of online vigilantism, Soelberg said in January, with wrong information about people not connected to the case being posted online.

An innocent 17-year-old was accused of being a murderer and was threatened because someone posted the wrong address online, Soelberg said then.

That behavior has continued, Mitchell said.

“To all of those who have continued to post innumerable, unfounded, ill-informed theories on social media: I hope you will pause and consider and evaluate the effect that you may have had on this family over the past several months,” Mitchell said, noting that the Lord family is “in agony” over losing a child.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *