Three teenagers charged with murder in the stoning and beating death of a homeless man are no longer eligible for the death penalty.
Ventura County Deputy Dist. Atty. Maeve Fox said Monday that she is amending the charges against the teens to eliminate the allegation that the killing occurred during a robbery, which would have made them eligible for the death penalty.
Fox said her review of the evidence shows that the robbery, which occurred before the killing, "was completely unrelated" and not a motive for the murder.
The killing, she said, "was basically for fun."
Defendants Timothy Becker, Christopher Dunham and Robert Coffman, all 18, are accused of fatally beating James Clark, a 58-year-old homeless veteran, at his encampment near the mouth of the Ventura River in late June.
Authorities say the teenagers were partying near the beach when they came upon Clark and stole belongings from him. Later, authorities say, the three pelted Clark with rocks and kicked him repeatedly in the head as he lay in his sleeping bag.
The teenagers have denied the charges.
An amended complaint charges each of them with murder and a separate count of robbery. They each face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and two to six years in prison if found guilty of robbery.
Defense attorney James Farley, who represents Coffman, said the amended complaint "was the proper decision, because [prosecutors'] special-circumstance allegation was not there. And I am very pleased that they have decided not go for death against that young man."
Lawyers for Becker and Dunham could not be reached for comment.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday but is expected to be postponed until next month.
The amended complaint does not affect a fourth defendant, Rocky Mattley, 14, who is facing one count of murder in juvenile court in connection with the slaying.