preliminary hearing for murder suspect Bronson Moon Lewis Jr. was
abruptly halted this afternoon when it was announced that law
enforcement took statements today from two more people with
information on the brutal killing of a Hoopa man.
Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal, who is prosecuting Lewis along with Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm, announced to the court that statements were taken “as we’ve been doing this.” It appeared one of the statements may be from “Daniel,” the boy who was reportedly by Lewis’s side during the entire incident.
Defense attorney Russ Clanton responded that “I think everything is back on the table,” and he wants witness Dale Mabry recalled, along with a 17-year-old girl who finished testifying today, because with new information he might take a different approach to cross-examination.
Timm and Bernthal said they would get the new statements to Clanton as soon as possible. In the meantime, Judge Kelly Neel scheduled Sept. 16 as the “optimistic” date for resuming the hearing.
Lewis, 18, is accused of the July 20 murder of 42-year-old Hoopa resident Julius “Jules” Tripp, who was asleep in his camper along Highway 96 when his truck was hit from behind and two teens started banging on his vehicle. An outraged Tripp threw rocks at Lewis’s truck, shattering a back window and the windshield. He ended up being attacked with a hatchet and then shot dead. His body was found Aug. 20 over a bank.
Today Timm had been prepared to call his third and final witness, the 17-year-old girl’s cousin, when the hearing was stopped.
This hearing, compared to other preliminary hearings, happened at warp speed. It’s the norm for preliminary hearings to be delayed for weeks, often months, after a defendant is arrested. Lewis turned himself in on Aug. 26 and the hearing began Sept. 9.
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