Man Faces Murder Charge in Farris Killing : Agoura Hills: The suspect is one of five. Three juveniles are being held; the fifth suspect is still at large.
A murder trial was ordered Wednesday for a baby-faced Oak Park teen-ager accused of joining three friends in killing an Agoura Hills teen-ager and wounding another youth at a jerry-built clubhouse while trying to steal marijuana.
Brandon Wade Hein, 18, fidgeted and hung his head in Malibu Municipal Court as Judge James A. Albracht ordered him held without bail.
Hein’s mother burst into tears on hearing that her son--at 130 pounds and 5 feet, 4 inches tall--would be returned to the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail until he is arraigned June 22.
He faces charges of murder, attempted murder and robbery in the May 22 slaying of James Farris III--the son of a Los Angeles police detective--and the stabbing of Michael McLoren, both 16. Prosecutors say they could seek the death penalty because the slaying was committed during a robbery in which a deadly weapon was used.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old Westlake Village boy denied the same charges Wednesday in Sylmar Juvenile Court, said Los Angeles Deputy Dist. Atty. Laura Foland-Priver. He and two other minors are at Sylmar Juvenile Hall, awaiting a June 16 hearing to learn whether they will be tried as adults for murder, attempted murder and robbery, she said.
But one suspect--a Thousand Oaks 18-year-old--remains at large.
Facing TV cameras outside court Wednesday, Jason Holland’s mother begged her son to turn himself in.
Sharry Holland told reporters that the last time she heard from him was when he phoned her after the slayings.
“I told him he needed to turn himself in and that they were looking for him,” she said. “And he went into shock and told me he loved me three times, and then he hung up the phone.”
Witnesses sketched out the crime scene for the judge in a preliminary hearing Wednesday, describing the bloody melee that exploded in Michael McLoren’s back yard in a plywood shack known as “the fort.”
Banged together from scrap lumber and plywood, the sturdy 13-by-14-foot structure had one beaten plexiglass window to shed light onto walls festooned with posters, testified Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Detective Robert Tauson.
“It’s pretty much decorated like a teen-ager’s bedroom,” he said.
But in the beams of detectives’ flashlights the night of the slaying, Tauson said, there were signs of a violent scrap: an overturned plastic chair stained with blood and a bloodied baseball bat.
When McLoren’s family helped detectives unlock a padlocked desk drawer, they found five small bags of marijuana and some cash, indicating drug sales had been going on, Tauson testified.
A few days later while recuperating at home, Michael McLoren told police what happened, testified Sheriff’s Detective William Neumann.
McLoren said he and Farris were lifting weights and slugging a punching bag just outside the clubhouse about 7 p.m. that evening, Neumann testified.
Hein, Holland and two juveniles vaulted the chain-link fence lining the yard and walked up, unsmiling, McLoren told Neumann.
One of the group, a 15-year-old Thousand Oaks boy, strode into the fort and began tugging on the locked drawer, Neumann testified. Holland, Hein and a 17-year-old Agoura Hills boy walked in behind him, followed by Farris, Neumann told the judge.
The 15-year-old demanded that McLoren give him the keys, but even when the other three chimed in, McLoren refused twice, Neumann said. Then, Neumann said, “Fists started flying and he [McLoren] got socked on the head about 10 times.”
At one point, Holland, Hein and the 15-year-old were hitting McLoren together; at another, as Holland was stabbing him, McLoren saw Holland pass the knife back and forth with the 15-year-old, Neumann said.
Then McLoren saw Farris sit on a mattress with his head down, Neumann testified. “And he observed Brandon Hein sock James numerous times with uppercuts,” he said.
McLoren could not see whether Hein was holding anything while punching, but Farris did not fight back, Neumann testified.
Soon after McLoren was kicked into a corner, he realized he had been stabbed and bolted for an opening in the brawl, the detective said.
As he ran for the back door of the house, “He heard voices calling from inside the fort, ‘He’s getting away, he’s getting away, let’s get out of here,’ ” Neumann said.
McLoren and Farris then ran into the kitchen and collapsed, Neumann testified.
Farris died later that night of two stab wounds to the chest, each nearly 3 inches deep, while McLoren was treated for three similar wounds to the back and abdomen, Tauson testified.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Ramirez testified that he stopped Holland, Hein and the three juveniles in a pickup truck less than two hours later, and found a knife in a pouch on Holland’s belt. But there was no blood on it, the deputy said, and he let the five go.
Defense attorney Jill Lansing argued that Hein should not face trial because prosecutors offered no proof that there was a robbery, nor that he had stabbed anyone.
But Judge Albracht disagreed, saying that Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeffrey Semow had offered proof that Hein aided and abetted the other four suspects in trying to rob the fort and stabbing McLoren and Farris.