Two teenagers made very brief initial appearances Thursday in adult court in Las Vegas where a prosecutor said they will face murder, attempted murder and other charges after allegedly capturing themselves on video intentionally crashing a stolen car into a bicyclist pedaling along the side of a road, killing him.
The teens, ages 18 and 16, appeared separately before a judge who scheduled each to appear again next Tuesday in Las Vegas Justice Court. Neither spoke or was asked to enter a plea, and both were being held without bail.
Police said this week that evidence shows the teens were together responsible for at least three hit-and-run incidents the morning of Aug. 14, including the crash that killed cyclist Andreas “Andy” Probst, 64, a retired former police chief from the Los Angeles-area city of Bell.
The Associated Press is not naming the teens due to their ages.
Their cases were handled individually because the older one, who was 17 at the time, was arrested the day of the crashes on charges related to fatal hit-and-run and possession of a stolen vehicle. The 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder and other charges after the video of the bicycle crash circulated widely on the internet.
“Both these defendants will be charged with open murder, attempted murder and many other related charges,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told reporters outside court. He said prosecutors will seek to try the cases together and high bail pending trial. He called the teens a danger to the community.
“The events in these cases are related," Wolfson said. "I’m very confident these cases will be consolidated.”
The teens cannot face the death penalty. Under Nevada law, if they are convicted in adult court of murder committed before they were 18, the most severe sentence they can receive is 20 years to life in state prison.
Only the older teen was represented by an attorney. David Westbrook, a public defender representing him, declined outside court to comment about the case but confirmed that his client was 17 when he was arrested last month and turned 18 in custody.
Judge Rebecca Saxe told the 16-year-old that he will have a lawyer appointed at his next court appearance.
Probst’s widow, Crystal Probst, and daughter, Taylor Probst, were in court for Thursday's hearing but left immediately afterward without speaking with reporters. Taylor Probst spoke publicly during a police news conference Tuesday.
The video, shot from the front passenger seat, shows the vehicle approaching Probst from behind as he rides near the curb on an otherwise traffic-free road. Male voices in the car can be heard laughing as the vehicle steers toward Probst and rams the bicycle. Probst hurtles backward across the hood and into the windshield. He is then seen on the ground next to the curb.
Police said they weren’t aware of the video until a high school resource officer provided it to investigators two weeks later. On Aug. 29, police announced they were searching for the passenger who recorded the video.
Wolfson declined to say Thursday whether police have the cellphone on which the video was allegedly recorded.
According to police, the teenagers first struck a 72-year-old bicyclist while in a stolen Hyundai sedan, drove away, crashed into a Toyota Corolla and again drove away before striking Probst.