Attacks on sleeping vagrants: US trio indicted

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iol picw ldwld Homeless Men Killed~2 Associated Press Alex Rios makes an appearance on video for an arraignment in court after the beating of two homeless men in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Picture: Roberto E. Rosales, Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque, New Mexico -

Three teenagers accused of beating to death two sleeping homeless men were indicted on Tuesday for the killings.

A New Mexico grand jury returned indictments that included first-degree murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and battery and numerous other counts. If convicted of the charges, all three defendants could face up to life in prison.

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said the 15- and 16-year-old suspects will be tried alongside 18-year-old Alex Rios in adult court because they were charged as serious youthful offenders and indicted on the first-degree murder charges. The Associated Press is not identifying the minors because of their age.

Rios and the two younger suspects are charged with attacking three homeless men as they slept on July 19 in a vacant lot that was a regular camping ground for transients.

The 15-year-old said the trio used cinderblocks to beat the men for over an hour, police said. According to a criminal complaint, he told police they took turns dropping them on the men's faces.

Sticks, a metal pole and other objects were also used to beat the men, police said.

Allison Gorman and Kee Thompson were killed. The third man, Jerome Eskeets, was able to get away and was hospitalised for his injuries.

Gorman and Thompson were Native American. Police said there was no indication the teens sought out the victims based on race, so hate-crime charges were not presented to the grand jury.

On the night of the attack, the 15-year-old said he was angry about breaking up with his girlfriend, and the three returned from a party and covered their faces with black T-shirts and went out to look for someone to beat up and possibly rob, according to the criminal complaint.

After being arrested and interviewed separately, the teens allegedly admitted to the beatings, prosecutors said. - Sapa-AP

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