Banning,CA teen gang killing suspect to be tried as an adult



http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_3514142

Teen suspect viewed as adult
Boy pleads not guilty, faces life in two gang-related slayings
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer



BANNING - A 15-year-old boy will be charged as an adult in connection
with the slaying of two men who tried to stop the violent beating of
another teenage boy who wanted out of a gang, authorities said
Wednesday.
Lonnie Anthony Walton pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Riverside
Juvenile Court to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of
conspiracy to commit murder. He also faces special-circumstance
allegations of criminal street gang activity that make him eligible for
life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Judge Robyn Rogers ruled Wednesday that Walton would be tried as an
adult, said Ingrid Wyatt, spokeswoman for the Riverside County District
Attorney's Office.

Walton and Jesus Hernandez, 18, are charged in the Feb. 7 shooting
deaths of 18-year-old Demetrius Rashad Hunt of La Quinta and Vincent
McCarthy, 33, of Beaumont. Hunt and McCarthy were shot when they tried
to stop gang members from assaulting a 16-year-old boy being "jumped
out" of the gang, said Leonard Purvis, deputy chief of police for
Banning.

"Jumping out" is the term for a street gang ritual where a member
wishing to leave the gang must withstand a beating from fellow members,
authorities say. The beatings typically result in serious injury.

On the evening of Feb. 7, the 16-year-old and his older brother went to
an apartment complex in the 600 block of East Williams Street so the
16-year-old could be jumped out of his gang, an affiliate of the
Bloods. The boy wanted to join his brother's gang, a Coachella
Valley-based Crips affiliate, Wyatt said.

The defendants are members of the gang the 16-year-old boy wanted to
leave. The boy's older brother brought along Hunt and McCarthy as
backup, Wyatt said.

During the jumping out ritual, Hunt and McCarthy tried tp stop the
fighting and were fatally shot as a result, said Purvis.

Hernandez was arraigned Tuesday in Riverside Superior Court, and also
pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder,
and participating in a criminal street gang. He could face


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the death penalty, Wyatt said. He and Walton will next appear in court
on Tuesday before Judge Rodney Walker.

Police continue searching for five other suspects in connection with
the slayings. Though the suspects have all been identified, names and
ages were not disclosed out of concern it would taint the ongoing
investigation, Purvis said.

The slayings prompted action by the Banning City Council, which on
Tuesday unanimously approved a federal grant application for the
$132,000 Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program to
be implemented in the city's four elementary schools and two middle
schools.

The Department of Justice will provide $70,000 to fund one police
officer for the program for one year. Police plan to go before the
school board and request the remainder of the funding, Purvis said.

The program, expected to begin in the fall, entails a full-time police
officer visiting 1,524 students in grades four through seven. The
yet-to-be assigned officer will use curriculum from the G.R.E.A.T.
program to talk with students about the dangers and consequences of
gang life. Hopefully, a rapport and trust will be established between
the students and police in the process, Purvis said.

In San Bernardino County, the program has been implemented at Rialto
Middle School, Westside Park Elementary School in Adelanto and Joshua
Circle Elementary School in Hesperia, said Kim Epps, a supervising
probation officer for San Bernardino County who also coordinates the
countywide gangs and drugs task force.

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