Prosecutors have moved to drop some of the charges against two teen gang members accused of beating up homeless people after one of the alleged victims admitted that he'd lied about what happened.
Benton County Chief Deputy District Attorney filed a motion Monday to dismiss counts of intimidation and second-degree robbery against Robert Lee Griffin, 19, and Jonathan Dakota Appelt, 18. Both are members of the "Juggaloes," a gang associated with the hard-core hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse, according to Lt. Tim Brewer of the Corvallis Police Department.
The police arrested Griffin and Appelt on Jan. 6 in connection with the beating of three homeless people, including one young man they reportedly targeted because of his sexual orientation.
That man, Matthew Edwards, 18, told police that Appelt and Griffin had beaten and choked him until he was unconscious. But according to the motion filed Monday, since their arrests, "investigating detectives have determined that Matt Edwards ... admittedly lied about the circumstances of the assault, robbery and intimidation."
Edwards wasn't the only one to change his story.
According to court documents, Griffin told police that he and Appelt assaulted Edwards because Edwards "made sexual advances" toward them. He later contacted police from Benton County jail "and subsequently told the police that he had given a false confession relating to that incident."
Intimidation is a hate crime under Oregon law. When perpetrated by two or more people, it is a felony charge.
Griffin and Appelt still face a charge of second-degree robbery for allegedly beating and robbing Stephen Surdyka, 55, who is homeless, on Jan. 4 outside University Market. They also are charged with third-degree assault for allegedly attacking Jonathan Leasure, 60, as he slept beneath a bridge, and beating him.
The state will present those counts to a grand jury.
Lt. Brewer said the investigation is continuing, and more charges and arrests are possible.
Griffin and Appelt remained in Benton County jail Monday on $325,000 bail.
Griffin's next court appearance is scheduled for today at 1:20 p.m. Appelt is scheduled to appear Wednesday.