Two 18-year-olds have been charged with murder in connection with the fatal beating of a counselor at a South Los Angeles youth home, officials said Wednesday.
Nyier Mason and Keith Lewis were each charged with one count of murder for their alleged participation in the Jan. 2 beating of 25-year-old David McKnight-Hillman at Wayfinder Family Services, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The nonprofit organization — licensed by the state of California to provide residential therapeutic services to children and youth who are placed by the Department of Children and Family Services — is located at 5300 Angeles Vista Blvd. in the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood.
Mcknight-Hillman, who was a counselor at the facility, was assaulted while trying to break up a fight, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported earlier. He later died as a result of his injuries.
“We all grieve for David McKnight-Hillman and his family,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “As prosecutors, we will fulfill our constitutional duty to hold accountable the people responsible for his murder and offer the assistance of our Bureau of Victim Services to help his family obtain the support and services they need to address their loss and heal from the effects of their crime-induced trauma.”
Lewis pled not guilty to the charge and is scheduled to appear again in court on Feb. 4, while Mason is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. Both are being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
If convicted as charged, Lewis and Mason each face a possible maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
Four other young men, ages 16 and 17, have also been charged with one count of murder in juvenile court. All four — who have not yet been identified — denied the charge Wednesday and are scheduled to return to court Feb. 4.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.