RALEIGH, N.C. — Four teens accused of killing a homeless man whose body was found on Raleigh's Capital Area Greenway beat him to death and returned days later to hide his body in a trash can, a Wake County prosecutor said Thursday.
Assistant District Attorney Katie Pomeroy said during a custody review hearing that the teens used a rock to crush Regynald Jose Brown's skull.
Brown, 37, was found by friends Dec. 8 in a trash can in a tunnel along the Walnut Creek Trail, just west of Hammond Road.
He was reported missing Nov. 20 and had not been seen or heard from since early November.
Three 15-year-old boys and a 13-year-old boy are charged in the case, and another 15-year-old is accused of helping them after the killing.
Pomeroy said during Thursday's hearing that at least one of the teens has been accused in two gang rapes – one in June and one in November.
"This was part of the way they could earn their stars in (a) gang," Pomeroy said.
The victims recently reported the assaults to police, Pomeroy said, and the cases are still under investigation.
Defense attorney Mike Klinkosum, who is representing the teen, said he hadn't heard about the rape accusations.
"They have been on (my client) to get him involved in gang activity," Klinkosum said, adding that his client has been trying to turn his life around with Young Life basketball, bible studies and even moving out of his home to get away from gang members in his neighborhood.
"(His mother) has done everything she can to keep him away from these boys," Klinkosum said.
At least two of the suspects are also accused of robbing a 67-year-old homeless man and stealing a bike from a 10-year-old and burning it.
The five teens are being treated as juveniles, but a probable cause hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27 to determine if they should be tried as adults.
"If probable cause is found in first-degree murder, juveniles are automatically bound over to Superior Court," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "For anything less than first-degree murder, the judge has a hearing to determine whether it's appropriate to send them to Superior Court."