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Teen defendants in bike path murder want their cases in juvenile system

Jan 3, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The two teenaged defendants in the Rails to Trails homicide case are seeking to have their cases moved to juvenile court.

The Fremont County Attorney's Office charged the Riverton boys, John Potter, 15 at the time of his arrest, and Santana Mendoza, who was 16, as adults from the beginning.

Mendoza and Potter are accused of killing David Ronald Moss, 25, and beating unconscious Aleeah Crispin, a woman in her late 30s, Sept. 3 at a location on the edge of Riverton.

Each defendant faces one count of second-degree murder and one of attempted second-degree murder. Both charges are felonies punishable by imprisonment for 20 years or life.

Not-guilty pleas

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges Oct. 24.

On Dec. 2, Mendoza's lawyer, Sky Phifer, filed a motion to transfer the teen's case to juvenile court. Potter's lawyers, Kerri Johnson and Devon Petersen, filed a similar motion for their client Dec. 20.

A civilian walking on the Rails to Trails pathway near Comanche Street at the All Nations Trailer Park called police before 8 a.m. Sept. 4 to report seeing a body nearby. When officers arrived on scene, they found Moss lying dead a few feet off the path and Crispin nearby, alive but unconscious.

The woman was airlifted to the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. She was in a coma for a time but has since returned home.

Tyler to rule

On Dec. 27, 9th District Court Judge Norman Young assigned Judge Marvin L. Tyler, also a district court judge in the 9th District, to decide whether to transfer the cases.

Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said he could not comment on the case, including why Tyler will rule on the transfer, because the case is sealed once a motion to transfer a subject to juvenile court is filed.

Lawyers for both defendants filed motions Thursday to set a hearing on the transfer question.

Tyler has not yet set a date for a hearing on the motions to transfer. Regardless of when it happens, the hearing will be closed to the public.

If Tyler moves the cases to juvenile court, they would be sealed, and the public would hear little more about them.

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