Teen witnesses testify in Minkler murder trial, recount the hours before his death

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Day two of the trial against two teens accused of killing 17-year-old Matthew Minkler continued Thursday with testimony from another witness.

According to police, it appeared Matthew Minkler had been shot in the face when was found dead inside a vacant home in Henderson last summer.

Matthew Minkler, 17, was shot in an abandoned Henderson home on June 8, 2018. (KLAS-TV)

The people on trial for the June 2018 murder of Minkler are two of his so-called friends, Jaiden Caruso and Kody Harlan.

Jaiden Caruso and Kody Harlan are the suspects on trial for the murder of Matthew Minkler.

Police said Minkler was with Caruso, Harlan and some other teens inside the vacant Henderson home doing drugs and drinking before they played a modified game of Russian Roulette. That’s when Caruso shot Minkler in the face, killing him, police said. According to detectives, after the shooting Harlan hid Minkler’s body in a closet.

Both Harlan and Caruso are charged with murder and robbery.

On Thursday, a teen who was at the house, but left before the shooting occurred, testified that he found out Minkler was shot and killed when he woke up.

“In the moment, I was shocked, so I left,” he said.

He also testified that before the shooting, Minkler threatened Caruso because he did not like that Caruso fired a bullet into the ceiling. This was the first time these claims had ever been heard.

It’s also important to note that this witness was somewhat combative with the judges and the attorneys in the courtroom during his testimony.

A detective with the Henderson Police Department also testified Thursday. After the crime, he reviewed surveillance video from the galleria mall that showed Caruso and Harlan buying shoes with what was thought to be Minkler’s money. The time-stamp is on June 8, 2018 mid-day, which is right after Minkler was shot to death.

Minkler’s empty wallet was also found in one of the suspect’s car.

During the detective’s testimony, there was a little bit of contention between the prosecution and the defense, about whether the money the teens used was that of Harlan’s or Minklers.

A second teen, Kymani Thompson, testified saying that among the other drugs taken that night, Caruso and Harlan also consumed Xanax.

The teen also described hearing Caruso and Harlan describing a “lick,” which is a slang word for a robbery. Thompson said he left the abandoned home before Minkler was shot and killed. He said he and his friend left after Caruso fired a shot into the ceiling.

After the deadly shooting of Matthew Minkler — Thompson said Caruso called him and told him what happened.

Prosecutor: “What did Jaiden say?”
Kymani Thompson: “That he just killed Matthew. He said I just killed someone and Gunner seemed in disbelief, so he gave me the phone, and I just hung up because I didn’t want nothing to do with that.”

The two teen witnesses Thursday and the one on Wednesday said that they did not call the police because they were scared. Day three of the Minkler Murder Trial will resume on Friday.

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