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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Lancaster

Teen Pleads Not Guilty in Slaying

September 30, 2000|SUE FOX

A champion hurdler and all-star football player at Littlerock High School pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and assault charges in the beating death of an 18-year-old man, a court official said.

Marcus Raines, 17, once a promising athlete striving for a college football scholarship, entered his plea before Antelope Superior Court Judge William Seelicke, said assistant court clerk Joan Merlo.

Raines was ordered last week to stand trial as an adult in the death of Christopher O'Leary, who police said was attacked by several football players during a May 19 fight at a Littlerock party.

O'Leary, a skateboarder who liked collecting frogs and salamanders, died three days later of head trauma.

Two of Raines' football teammates, Richard Newton and Rodney Woods, both 17, face similar charges. Newton will also be tried as an adult, and Woods is awaiting a court hearing to decide whether he too will be tried as an adult.

According to police, O'Leary was picking up his girlfriend at the party when Newton punched him in the face. When O'Leary crumpled to the ground, Raines allegedly kicked him in the head. Woods also joined the beating, authorities said.

The next day, as the victim fought for his life in a hospital, Raines went on to win two medals at a high school track meet.

Prosecutors have also charged the defendants, who are all from Palmdale, with assault in a second fight the same night involving a 22-year-old friend of O'Leary's. A fourth member of the football team, a 17-year-old, has also been charged with assault in that fight.

Raines and Newton are both due back in court Oct. 6, Merlo said.

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