A San Diego teenager was ordered held on $1 million bail Tuesday on suspicion of murder and torture in the death of a man who never regained consciousness after he was beaten last month.
Dominick Wells, 19, entered a not guilty plea in a San Diego courthouse. A deputy district attorney said four juveniles have also been charged with one count of murder and one count of torture in the attack.
Edward Starland was found unresponsive on Sunday, Nov. 18 near the pedestrian bridge that crosses Harbor Drive in the downtown area of San Diego.
The 56-year-old victim died on Monday, Dec. 3.
Starland was a homeless man whose family lived out of town. They visited him while he was in the hospital.
A witness said Starland and the group of teens were arguing when he was pushed to the ground and attacked, according to Lt. Matt Dobbs. The teens took off when the witnesses yelled at them.
“Torture is not a very common charge, but we believe the facts of this case supported the charge,” Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb said.
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When asked what prompts a torture charge, Loeb said if the injuries were inflicted for a "specific, sadistic purpose."
No weapons were used in the beating, the deputy district attorney said.
Prosecutors have not determined if the juveniles will be tried as adults.
If convicted, Wells could face 25 years to life in prison.
Ed. Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the number of co-defendants in the case and the bail amount ordered. We have corrected the article and regret the errors.