Two 18-year-olds have been charged with the murder of David McKnight-Hillman, a youth counselor who was fatally beaten while trying to break up a fight at a Los Angeles group home, according to officials.
Keith Lewis and Nyier Mason each face one count of murder, the Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday.
If convicted as charged, they could receive a possible maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
"We all grieve for David McKnight-Hillman and his family," Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. "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 pleaded not guilty to the charge on Wednesday, according to prosecutors. Meanwhile, Mason's arraignment has been scheduled for Thursday.
McKnight-Hillman, 25, died on Sunday from injuries sustained in an attack at a children and family services facility, according officials.
On Saturday night, deputies found McKnight-Hillman suffering from what appeared to be blunt-force trauma injuries after responding to a call about a fight at the Wayfinder Family Services center in Windsor Hills, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Deputy Joana Warren told The Los Angeles Times.
McKnight-Hillman, who was responsible for the day-to-day care of the facility's residents, was trying to break up a fight among seven youths when he was attacked, Warren said.
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Lewis and Mason were arrested in connection to the attack, along with four other teenagers — who range in age between 16 and 17 — that have since been charged with one count of murder in juvenile court and have denied the charges, according to prosecutors.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The Times reported that authorities are searching for a fifth juvenile in connection to the beating.
Lewis is currently held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, while Mason is detained at Men's Central Jail, according to online jail records.
Their bail has been set at $2 million each.
It is unclear if the six teenagers charged have retained legal representation who can speak on their behalf.
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