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Archive for Thursday, November 23, 1995

OTTAWA SHOOTING SUSPECT TO BE TRIED AS ADULT

November 23, 1995

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— A teen-ager involved in a Sept. 24 shooting in Ottawa identified a 16-year-old Topekan as the gunman during a court hearing Wednesday.

A Topeka teen-ager accused of killing an Ottawa girl in September has been ordered to stand trial as an adult.

Nathan Earwood, 16, was bound over for trial on a murder charge and two other felonies after a hearing Wednesday in Franklin County District Court.

Trial will be set during a hearing Monday for Earwood, who watched Wednesday while a teen who accompanied him to the victim's apartment after nightfall Sept. 24 identified him as the shooter.

Sean M. Pedrow, 17, said he watched as Earwood fired a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol into a group of people sitting in the dark outside the apartment.

"He goes, 'Where are they? Where are they?'" Pedrow testified. "I pointed at them, and he got on his knees and started shooting. And I took off running."

Authorities said the victim, Stephanie Perez, 14, died after being struck in the chest with a .22-caliber slug.

Chad Perez, one of Stephanie's brothers, said he and his siblings and some friends were visiting around a backyard picnic table when "next thing you know, we start hearing shots."

Sherry Wolken, the Perezes' next-door neighbor, said she heard what sounded like firecrackers.

"I went to the door, and Stephanie was at the back door," Wolken said. "I let her in, and she said, 'Something hit me.' We could tell she'd been shot. You could see the blood."

Toby Surber, a 17-year-old member of the group that went to the Perezes' apartment, said he was among seven teens who watched from a field while Earwood and Pedrow crawled toward the apartment.

Surber, who said he knew Earwood by his street name, "Puppet," testified that Earwood admitted to him that he had fired at the Perezes.

"Puppet said he blasted on them," Surber testified. "He said he hoped he hit Steve (Perez, one of Stephanie's brothers)."

Surber said the teens were seeking revenge against the Perezes "because they messed with a couple of our friends' cars."

While Pedrow and Surber identified Earwood as the gunman, a defense witness said the only person he saw with a gun on Sept. 24 was Pedrow.

Nick Griffin, 16, testified that he saw Sean carrying a 9 mm pistol in his waistband as Pedrow and Earwood approached the apartment. He also contradicted other witnesses who reported seeing Earwood carrying a .22-caliber pistol.

That testimony drew a pointed line of questioning from Bob Kuchar, assistant Franklin County attorney, who pointed out that Griffin never had provided that information to police. He told Griffin that if he were perjuring himself, he would stand trial as an adult.

"Why have you never told that to anyone until today?" Kuchar said.

"Because I was scared," Griffin said.

Griffin and Surber have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the shooting. Pedrow was charged with two felonies and is awaiting a hearing on Dec. 4.

Earwood originally was named on a juvenile complaint alleging first-degree murder, attempted aggravated battery, conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Last Thursday, prosecutors replaced the first-degree count with a second-degree murder charge and removed the attempted aggravated battery count. John Wilcox, assistant county attorney, would not comment Wednesday on why prosecutors amended the complaint.

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