Judge addresses courtroom behavior for teens accused in deadly hit-and-run

Posted at 2:32 PM, December 20, 2023 and last updated 7:36 PM, December 20, 2023

LAS VEGAS (Scripps News Las Vegas) — The two teens accused of intentionally hitting and killing 64-year-old retired police chief Andreas Probst were back in a Clark County courtroom Tuesday morning.

Jesus Ayala and Jzamir Keys in court

Jesus Ayala and Jzamir Keys are charged as adults for allegedly hitting and killing a retired police chief. (Scripps News Las Vegas)

18-year-old Jesus Ayala and 16-year-old Jzamir Keys are facing several felony charges including murder and attempted murder after police said they were involved in a deadly crime spree in stolen cars in August.

Last month, Ayala’s attorney public defender David Westbrook filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus asking the judge to dismiss his client’s grand jury indictment.

In the petition, Westbrook claimed the state did not instruct the grand jury on willfulness, premeditation and deliberation of the murder charge. He also argued the jurors may have been biased because of the extensive media coverage of the case.

READ MORE: Indictment details crime spree for teens accused in deadly hit-and-run on video

Westbrook argued these claims in court to District Court Judge Jacqueline Bluth on Tuesday.

“These are complicated terms,” said Westbrook. “They’re not easily understood by a layperson.”

Westbrook also said media coverage in this case is “fast and furious.”

“My concern going into this was that the grand jury might have taken a look at some of this media coverage and they might have developed a bias,” said Westbrook.

Chief Deputy District Attorney John Giordani disputed Westbrook’s claims.

“The grand jury is deliberating on an open murder charge. They’re not deliberating on a first-degree murder charge. I’m not going to go in there and define the elements of first-degree murder,” said Giordani.

Giordani also said there is no evidence of media bias in the case.

“This is not the end all, be all cases. This is not the most high-profile case any of us has handled,” said Giordani. “The idea that I need to go in front of the grand jury and ask them, hey, have you seen this in the news? Anyone have an issue with this case is ridiculous. There’s no procedure to do that.”

teens giggle in court

The two teenagers accused of deliberately hitting and killing a bicyclist while laughing on video about it, appeared to giggle and talk in court on Tuesday. (Scripps News Las Vegas)

Before Judge Bluth ruled on the petition, she took time to address the teens’ courtroom behavior from October.

In a previous hearing, Ayala and Keys were seen smiling, laughing and even making obscene hand gestures at the family of Probst.

WATCH: Teens Laugh, Flip Bird in Court for Allegedly Killing Cyclist

Westbrook claims evidence will come out explaining why Ayala may have acted the way he did.

“There’s going to be evidence presented later on in this case about my client’s mental illnesses,” said Westbrook. “And about his physical and emotional ailments, which might explain why he might laugh in court and not behave appropriately.”

Judge Bluth asked the two teen suspects to stand up in court, while she addressed their past behavior.

“Obviously, the last time you were here, there were a lot of things done or not done. I’m not sure because I think those things were done outside of the presence and I didn’t see that,” said Judge Bluth.

Judge Bluth said she holds herself to the standard that everyone within the courtroom treats everyone with dignity and respect.

It’s hard process and it’s adversarial, but it doesn’t mean that we owe each other anything less,” said Judge Bluth.

Ultimately, Judge Bluth then dismissed Westbrook’s petition.

Crystal and Taylor Probst, wife and daughter of Andreas Probst, were in the courtroom Tuesday and have been attending each hearing.

After court, the family told Channel 13 they found the defense argument of “mental illness” ridiculous and they hope the teens are held accountable for their actions.

The teens’ trial date has now been moved to November 12, 2024.

This story was originally published by Scripps News Las Vegas, an E.W. Scripps Company.