The Brian Watkins murder case moved closer to trial Wednesday for eight youths charged with killing the Utah tourist as he tried to defend his parents from a subway mugging attempt.
State Supreme Court Justice Edwin Torres set June 17 for the start of hearings in his Manhattan court. No trial date has been set for the eight suspects, all facing murder and robbery charges for the slaying Sept. 2.The judge also granted a request to order correction officials to transfer defendant Yull Gary Morales, 19, to a jail facility where he can continue his high school studies.
Morales is accused of wielding the knife that killed Brian Watkins, 22, of Provo, during the attack on a midtown Manhattan subway platform as he tried to defend his mother and father from a gang of muggers.
Watkins' mother, Karen, was punched in the face. His father, Sherwin, was slashed with a razar-sharp knife and robbed of $200.
The family had been visiting New York to attend the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament.
Watkins, his parents, brother, Todd, 25, and sister-in-law, Michelle, had taken the subway from the tennis tournament in Flushing, Queens, and were on their way for a later dinner at Central Park's Tavern on the Green when they were jumped by the gang as they waited for an uptown subway.
Neither Todd nor Michelle Watkins was injured.
Police said they believed the youths jumped the family to get money to go to Roseland Ballroom near the subway station.
The case focused national attention on rising crime and violence in New York City.
Watkins' parents, who were in New York Monday to help dedicate the Brian Watkins Tennis Center, did not attend Wednesday's court proceeding.
The defense lawyer for Morales, Joel Lutwin, said afterward he would seek to disqualify statements made by his client after his arrest because the youth was arrested at home without a search warrant as required by state law.