Fresno teen pleads not guilty in attack on WWII veteran
FRESNO, Calif. — The Fresno teenager accused of brutally attacking a 92-year-old World War II veteran pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of home invasion robbery.
Dezman Shang Kenner, 17, is being tried as an adult in Fresno County Superior Court because of the seriousness of the charge.
Until his next court hearing on April 8, Kenner will remain at the county's Juvenile Justice Center in lieu of $605,000 bail, Judge Kimberly Gaab said.
In November, Sheriff Margaret Mims said three teens broke into Josef Martin's home in southeast Fresno during the early hours of Oct. 23 and one of them thrust a gun in Martin's mouth and threatened to kill him.
Martin, a decorated Army soldier who served nine years as a corporal tank driver and survived several battles, including the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, also was pistol-whipped, beaten and his head was slammed into a wall before he was thrown into a closet. The assailants stole $200 in cash and jewelry, the sheriff said.
Keith Scott, 16, and a 12-year-old boy have already confessed to their involvement, court records show.
Scott, who also is being tried in adult court, pleaded guilty on March 13 to felony home-invasion robbery. He faces up to five years in juvenile prison when he is sentenced June 11. The 12-year-old was sentenced in December to a year of incarceration inside the Juvenile Justice Center as part of a rehabilitation program for pre-adolescents. The Bee does not identify minors who are tried as juveniles.
Kenner has remained silent about his alleged involvement.
According to an affidavit by sheriff's detective Alan Kelzer, Kenner used a black revolver to rough up Martin. At the time of the home-invasion robbery, Kenner was on juvenile probation for auto theft and burglary, the affidavit says.
Martin was sleeping when the intruders rousted him from his bed and pointed a black handgun at his face. "I'll kill you, you son of a (expletive)," the gunman said, according to the affidavit.
The 12-year-old confessed to breaking into Martin's home by crawling through a garage window. He then opened the garage door to let Scott and Kenner in, the affidavit says. Scott identified Kenner as the gunman in the home-invasion robbery, the affidavit says.
Kelzer wrote the affidavit in support of a warrant to search Kenner's home — an apartment in the 5100 block of East Hedges Avenue near Olive and Peach avenues. Martin's home is near Olive and Willow avenues.
Detectives were looking for Martin's diamond frog pendant, two gold necklaces, and a custom ring made from a French silver dollar with a red ruby mounted on it. Martin said the ring was made for him by a prisoner of war who was a jeweler. The man forged it as a gesture of goodwill and gratitude to American troops. The red ruby is Martin's birthstone.
In the search of Kenner's home, detectives discovered marijuana in the master bedroom, in a closet and in the living room; methamphetamines hidden inside a ventilation duct; three laptop computers; and an empty case for a Glock handgun, but not the weapon or Martin's jewelry or $200 in cash, court documents say.
Detectives believe Kenner pawned the stolen loot, the documents say.