Jesse: Let’s talk a little bit more about that Russian roulette story. Brad, my question to you is why were they charged with murder? I mean, they said it’s a modified version of Russian roulette, but I’m imagining if Russian roulette went bad murder wouldn’t be the charge. What am I missing here?
Brad Micklin: Well, I think there’s a couple of issues that are going on here and it’s gonna turn and develop as the story continues because I think we’re just at the early stages of it, but the story seems to be that the defendants, or at least claiming that it was Russian roulette and that the victim himself may have actually pulled the trigger. While that may be true and that would certainly limit or reduce their culpability, but at the same time, even if that were the case, if they were involved in this incident or they brought the gun there, intent may actually transfer over into a different crime are into murder, even though they may not have actually intended to kill him.
Jesse: But is there evidence that they wanted him dead? I mean, I read a little bit about this story and it seems that they might’ve had a grudge against him and there might have been something going on that we, we don’t know about yet. Have you read about that?
Brad Micklin: Well, there’s a few things that are in the news right now and the main thing that I’ve heard about is a social media post from one of the alleged defendants where there is a question that may be he admitted to this crime and maybe there was some motive. But the problem with social media is, although it’s been with us for a long time, its use in the courtroom is relatively new. So there’s always questions surrounding authenticity, admissibility, and then also just credibility.
How many times have you seen a facebook post from somebody saying something about how great their life is, but then you get to know the person and it’s really not that case? So the mere fact that they posted something that may have suggested their involvement, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s accurate.
Jesse: In these kinds of cases where people take, victims take a role in a very dangerous activity, is there any defense that they assume the risk of what’s going to happen? Again, we don’t know all the details of what’s happening in this case yet, but if they were involved in consensual Russian roulette, which I can’t believe I’m saying, and ironically this happened in Las Vegas. I mean this is not the kind of gambling I think anybody wanted, but again, is that a way that the defense could say, look, he assumed the risk?
Brad Micklin: You’re meaning the victim,?
Jesse: Meaning the victim.
Brad Micklin: Well, I mean to some extent, certainly if you are engaged in a in a dangerous activity like that or we’ve been playing with a loaded gun in any way, you’re certainly assuming some of the risks. That doesn’t necessarily negate the fact that the other two individuals who were involved didn’t cause or create a dangerous situation that led to his death.
Jesse: Weird part about it is I hear that again, one of the victims, excuse me, one of the defendants allegedly shot him point blank in the face. How is that a modified version of Russian roulette? My understanding was that the victim will always pick the gun up and put it to his head or his face and pull the trigger. I guess that’s where things get a little weird for the defendants.
Brad Micklin: Well, and it’s going to be a troubling defense because we know what Russian roulette is supposed to suggest, but we don’t really know what happened here yet, so it’s going to be really important to find out how he died, where the gun came from, whose fingerprints are on there. I think once these pieces start to come together through the testimony and in the media, then we’ll have a better sense of where the case is going to go.
Jesse: A 17 year old and a 16 year old are both charged as adults. What’s going on?
Brad Micklin: Well, I think it’s sending a serious message. The juvenile system is about rehabilitation.
Jesse: And Brad, let me, let me just, sorry to interrupt. Brad Micklin. I messed that up. Your first time on the program and I keep messing it up.
Brad Micklin: I’ll Let it go and invite me back.
Jesse: My apologies. Please continue.
Brad Micklin: So like I’m saying, the juvenile system is about rehabilitation. So the punishment is always going to be significantly less, especially there’s never any death penalty. I think when you have children, close to the age of majority of legal age and you have a heinous crime like this, I think that they want to have more severe punishment so it deters other people from committing these kinds of acts. But I also think there was an issue about the actions of these kids and the lack of either responsibility or accountability. And I think, the story that I heard was after this, they were either posting on social media and they were either in a stolen car or at least driving recklessly, which shows almost an indifference to what they had just done, whether it was intentional or not. And I think that played a part in the decision to try them as an adult.
Jesse: And what could ultimately happened to them, if they are found guilty of this?
Brad Micklin: Well, it’s hard to say because I’m not really sure about Vegas’s laws about death penalties and things like that, but the punishment is going to be the same as it would be for an adult.
Jesse: Now, here’s the weird part about it. We talked about it in the preview, in the report from Anthony that it was a modified version of Russian roulette. And I don’t know what that means, but if he was shot in the face by one of these guys, that’s not the Russian roulette that I have always heard of it. It was always my understanding that the victim in this case and when I heard Russian roulette, I assumed when I first read about it, he took the gun, put it to his head, and it was an accident of some sort. That doesn’t appear to be Russian roulette.
Brad Micklin: Yeah, I would agree. I actually noticed it in the clip earlier. I originally thought that the use of the term Russian roulette really just to kind of put a spin onto it. You know, it’s in the media, but when they say modified it suggests that there was something that happened and we’re not really sure who pulled the trigger and that may be why it’s modified or I’m not really sure how Russian electrically played, but I understand that typically there’ll be one bullet and it’s randomness. So it could be that the gun was full of bullets, you know, it could be almost anything we just don’t know at this point.
Jesse: The mother of this Mr. Minkler he said that Caruso, one of the defendants, had a beef with him and that this really wasn’t an accident of some kind. Perhaps that’s why the Russian roulette theory came forward. So it adds a little bit of grade here. But if there was really a situation and we, the details are still coming forward, where modified version will be okay, we spend it and then I point the gun at you pull the trigger, you point at me, is there any way this could be defended as an accident?
Brad Micklin: Well, I mean it could be defended as an accident. It’s not necessarily going to negate the gravity of what they did.
Jesse: Because I’m assuming then that they would say, look, the victim assumed the risk here, the victim, assumed the risk.
Brad Micklin: And that’s possible. It’s very hard as a defense attorney to make the victim the cause and to blame the victim [crosstalk 00:06:08].
Brad Micklin: Before a jury, so you kind of have to tread lightly there. But I’m sure they’re going to try to do something to at least remove the blame from the two kids that were involved and try to place it as, sort of as gently as they can, onto the victim themselves.
Jesse: We’re learning new details about this. First up, it says that they never called 911. Detectives reportedly found F Matt spray painted on the closet door where Minkler’s body was found. Minkler’s wallet was found in the stolen care that Mr. Harlen was allegedly driving and he drove in a police car chase. They eventually caught up to him and Minkler’s wallet was in there. As you heard in that short report from Anthony, that Harlen allegedly said that he wanted to clean up the crime scene, or that he helped clean up the crime scene. And when they look at Caruso’s cell phone, one of the defendants had said bro, I just caught a body. It was a video of him saying that.
And finally, the last piece of information that we just learned was that Mr. Caruso, again, one of the defendants, never allowed the other participants to handle the firearm or pull the trigger themselves. What do you think about these developments?
Brad Micklin: Well, I think some of these issues go back to your earlier question about why are they being tried as adults. There’s always a chance when you have guns involved that things can go horribly wrong. It doesn’t necessarily mean that was the intention. It could’ve just been foolish and went tragic. But what you do after that says a lot about whether or not it was an accident or was it intentional. If you accidentally harm somebody and then you call 911 to get that person help, well then you’re at least acting consistently. If you cover it up or hide it or brag about it, that suggests that it may not have been an accident.
Jesse: But the revelation that if this is true, that he never allowed them to handle the gun, the defendant never allowed other people to handle the gun, how on earth is this Russian roulette? How can you blame it on Russian roulette?
Brad Micklin: Well, we’re not getting the statement from the victim. We’re getting this from the people either that are on trial or people that are representing them. I think there’s going to be a lot about these, I hate to call them children, the two defendants, I think we’re going to learn a lot about them and their past. We don’t know anything about these kids, what they were like before this, what possible trouble they had before. This may not have even been the first time that they committed an act like this.
Jesse: Investigators say that Caruso, again one of the defendants, broke down and admitted to being involved. He said though it was an accident and that he had been using Xanax. What do you think about that?
Brad Micklin: It’s hard to comment. I mean, I don’t really know the exact effect that the Xanax can have and I don’t know how much he claimed to have been using. But I don’t know if that’s going to be enough to negate his involvement. I don’t know if it’s going to be enough to say that what they did was tragic because he was under the influence. And you still have, if you could commit these acts and you could take the steps to cover them up so carefully and methodically, then it’s unlikely that the drugs or alcohol or any kind of substance he had actually affected his abilities.
Jesse: Well, the mother in this case, Jamie Shanklan, who’s the mother of this young boy, this 17 year old who was killed, she said she believes that Caruso had a beef with her son, she doesn’t believe it’s an accident. She said my baby never came home. I’ve been mourning for days and now I feel my anger. It’s a really tragic case. We’re going to keep covering it. As soon as we have an update about it we’ll make sure to let you know.
But before we go back into our next case, I want to sign off Brad Micklin. Brad, it was great having you on the program. First appearance. Can’t wait to have you back.
Brad Micklin: I’m looking forward to it Jesse, thanks.
Jesse: Thank you.