LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Jury deliberations are underway in the trial for two teens accused of killing 17-year-old Matthew Minkler. Authorities say Minkler was shot and killed during a modified version of Russian Roulette last summer.
Before the trial wrapped up Tuesday both defendants sat emotionless in court on the last day. Police say a group of teens were drinking and doing drugs in a vacant Henderson home when 16-year-old Jaiden Caruso allegedly shot Minkler in the face, killing him.
Metro detectives said 17-year-old Kody Harlan helped hide the body.
Caruso’s attorney said it was an accident.
A pharmacology expert testified Tuesday explaining that alcohol, marijuana, and Xanax inside someone’s system, which was the case for Caruso at the time of the killing, impact brain function.
“You’re not going to think as well, react as well, make sensible decisions, etc.,” said Dr. Alan Donelson, pharmacology expert. “Because you’re taking off layer after layer of what makes you human.”
During closing arguments, the defense did say that Caruso killed Minkler, but they said it was because of the effects of the drugs the teens consumed, making it an accidental killing.
“He didn’t plan to kill him, he didn’t murder him. Why? Who is he? He’s a stupid 16-year-old, doing drugs, doing lots of drugs, playing with guns,” said Mace Yampolsky, Caruso’s defense attorney.
However, the prosecution says there was a motive to rob Minkler of his money.
Police say they found Minkler’s empty wallet inside the defendants’ vehicle. Caruso and Harlan were also seen at Galleria Mall right after Minkler’s death.
“Within 45 minutes of tossing him in a closet, throwing a tarp over him, they’re now shopping,” said Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Overly during her closing arguments. “It’s time to get some food; it’s time to shop for shoes. This is first-degree murder, ladies and gentleman. There’s no ifs, and, or buts about it.”
Now, it’s up to the jury.