Potter and Mendoza plead not guilty to September Rails to Trails homicide

(John Potter sitting between his attorneys Carrie Johnson and Devon Petersen at the preliminary hearing last month. Joshua Scheer photo)

Santana Mendoza was escorted into the Riverton Circuit Courtroom by deputies at last month's preliminary hearing. Joshua Scheer photo

Santana Mendoza was escorted into the Riverton Circuit Courtroom by deputies at last month’s preliminary hearing. Joshua Scheer photo

(Lander, Wyo.) – The two teenage boys accused of last month’s Rails to Trails homicide and attempted murder pleaded not guilty to all charges in Wyoming’s Ninth District Court.

John Potter and Santana Mendoza, both born in 1997 and from Riverton, have been charged with Second Degree Murder in the death of David Moss Jr., 25, and the attempted second degree murder of Aleeah Crispin. Their beaten bodies were found along the Rails to Trails pathway between Webbwood and Honor Farm roads.

The joint arraignment hearing this afternoon was attended by more than 50 people, and at least eight Fremont County Sheriff’s deputies were present.

Ninth District Court Judge Norman E. Young joined both Potter’s and Mendoza’s cases for the purpose of trial. Young listened to no objections from any of the defense attorneys present, telling them they could file an objection and a hearing on the matter could be held in the future.

The trial for both defendants was set for January 14, 2014. It is stacked beneath seven other cases.

Neither Potter nor Mendoza had any questions for the judge about either charge.

Evidence used for the purpose of the preliminary hearing in circuit court was taken out of the district court’s record.

It is alleged that Potter and Mendoza beat Moss to death using their feet and a baseball bat. A pair of brass knuckles was also reportedly with the teens, but Mendoza reportedly told investigators that he didn’t use them.

The Fremont County Coroner’s office released a Verdict and Case Docket in connection with the investigation, coincidentally  this week, ruling the death a homicide and that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries and manual strangulation.” The verdict also revealed that Moss had a blood alcohol level under the legal limit at .072 percent and that his toxicology tests were positive for cannabinoids (marijuana).

Read more details about the case here.