(Riverton, Wyo.) – Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said he will be prosecuting the two teenage boys arrested in last week’s Rails to Trails homicide as adults, and court documents have identified them as being John Ani Potter and Santana Mendoza.
Both juveniles, born in 1997 and Riverton residents, have been charged with Second Degree Murder and Attempted Second Degree Murder. The felony murder charge carries a possible punishment of 20 years to life in prison. The attempted murder charge carries the same penalties.
Mendoza is being held on $1 million cash only bond, and Potter is held on $500,000 cash only bond. Bennett could not say why Circuit Court Judge Wesley A. Roberts doubled the bond for one. “In the eyes of the state one is not half as culpable as the other,” Bennett said.
Preliminary hearings for the pair are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Bennett said he anticipates the boys’ attorneys will request a transfer to juvenile court once the case transferred to Wyoming’s Ninth District Court, but he said he feels confident that the state can meet the criteria to keep them charged as adults.
The charges stem from the Sept. 4, 2013, death of David Moss, 25, and beating of Aleeah Crispin. Crispin is in her 30s, and as of Friday was in critical condition at an undisclosed hospital.
According to the affidavits filed in the case, written by Fremont County Sheriff’s Det. Eric Granlund, law enforcement was notified of an unresponsive person on the Rails to Trails pathway between Webbwood and Honor Farm roads. There officers reportedly found the male victim deceased and Crispin nearby, breathing but unconscious. She reportedly suffered severe head trauma.
Moss was later identified through the use of dental and fingerprint records.
“Late in the evening of September 4, 2013, law enforcement received a tip from an identified informant who stated that earlier in the day on September 4, 2013, he had heard a person known as Santana Mendoza state that he (Mendoza) and another person had beaten a person near the Rails to Trails bike path,” states the affidavit.
The court documents state authorities interviewed Mendoza the next day, and he admitted that himself and Potter assaulted Moss and Crispin, leaving them lying unconscious beside the path.
“Mendoza stated that prior to the assault, he and Potter discussed attacking Moss and Crispin, who were noticed eating McDonald’s food next to the Rails to Trails path,” states the affidavit. “According to Mendoza, he (Mendoza) continued to observe Moss and Crispin while Potter retrieved weapons. According to Mendoza, Potter returned with a metal baseball bat and brass knuckles. Mendoza took the brass knuckles and Potter kept the bat.”
The court documents state Mendoza denied using the brass knuckles, but admitted to kicking both in the face. Mendoza allegedly observed Potter hit Moss with the bat.
According to Mendoza both victims were unconscious and Moss was making noises as they fled, states the affidavit.