|Six people charged in near fatal beating of teen|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Nov. 15, 2004 -- Three additional men were arrested over the weekend in connection with the Nov. 9 aggravated assault of 19-year-old Marcus Allen Vaughn, whose condition has not improved, according to the teen's father who talked with sheriff's investigators Monday. Officers located what they believe to be the weapon used in the beating, Sunday after a lengthy search,
Felipe Martinez Ortiz, 23, and John Matthew Perez, 21, both of Sulphur Springs, and Mike Alvin Ruiz, 21, of Winnsboro were all arrested Friday at a South Locust Street residence for possession of marijuana by deputies after a tip of suspected drug use at the location was received. Upon entering the residence, officers noticed the smell of burnt marijuana.
After further investigation into Tuesday night's aggravated assault and after interviews, it had become apparent by Saturday morning that Ortiz, Perez and Ruiz were involved in the beating and were arrested on the aggravated assault charge Saturday.
The arrests brought the total of arrests in the assault to six. Two men, 22-year-old Damien Lynn Jolly of Cooper and 27-year-old Juan Alvarez, who has addresses in both Wylie and Sulphur Springs, were arrested Thursday night on warrants for aggravated assault. Kerry Lee Jones, 22, of Cooper was picked up Friday morning at his Delta County residence on the second-degree felony warrant.
Continued investigation into the incident, which included questioning of a number of people familiar with the suspects and canvassing of miles of county roads near the scene of the attack led investigators to two other men believed to be involved in the incident. Deputies, armed with an arrest warrant, were attempting to locate a seventh suspect Monday and were working with the district attorney's office to obtain a warrant for an eighth man implicated in the case, Hopkins County Chief Sheriff's Investigator Andy Chester said Monday morning.
On the fifth day of their search, sheriff's deputies located what they believed to be the weapon used to injure Vaughn in a local resident's vehicle. The owner of the truck contacted the sheriff's department after finding the item in the back of his truck. Investigators said the item would be taken to a forensics lab to determine if it was the blunt object used to beat Vaughn's head and ribs, according to Chester.
Five of the six men arrested last week in connection with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges remained in the county jail Monday morning, in lieu of $200,000 bond each. Only Juan Alvarez had been released after posting bond Saturday, according to jail officials.
If Vaughn does not survive his injuries, all eight of the men implicated in the incident could face murder charges, according to sheriff's deputies.
"The victim's father said, when I talked to him this morning, there has been no change," Chester said of Vaughn, who remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler. "They are still battling pressure on his brain, which fluctuates. He does have pneumonia and is still in a coma, according to his dad."
Chester also said that while the eight men believed to have been involved have been identified and a weapon has been found, investigators Lewis Tatum and Jace Anglin are still investigating and deputies will continue looking for any additional objects which may have been used in the beating.
"These guys have been working hard," Chester praised the investigators and deputies. "They have walked that area numerous times, and came in on their time off. Thursday was a holiday and they worked through that, and into the weekend too. They have been working continuously on this and are doing a good job. Investigators Lewis Tatum and Jace Anglin are still working on this case."
The eight men are accused of luring Vaughn, under the pretext of attending a party, into following them to County Road 3504 where they ambushed him. He sustained severe head injuries, broken ribs and scraped knuckles, which is indicative of a fight. The man's truck was damaged and appeared to have been driven or pushed into some nearby trees, which made the passing motorist who found him at the bridge railing believe he had been injured in a vehicle accident.
Investigation by sheriff's deputies and state troopers however soon determined evidence at the scene was not consistent with a vehicle accident, and detectives were called in and the investigation into the case launched.