Preston Lord: No death penalty for suspects charged in teen's murder

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell confirmed on May 15 that none of the so-called Gilbert Goons will face the death penalty in the beating death of Preston Lord.

Preston, who was 16, died in the hospital two days after being beaten at a 2023 Halloween party in Queen Creek. It took more than four months to make the seven arrests. All seven suspects are facing first degree murder charges, but only three of them - Dominic Turner, Treston Billey and Taylor Sherman - were eligible for the death penalty. The other four were minors at the time of the crime.

Mitchell said it was her decision to not seek the death penalty. She said she came to that conclusion out of a sense of fairness for all.

"Essentially, seeking the death penalty against half of the defendants - or approximately half - and not the other half, that would assume that those that you're seeking against are maybe the primary actors or the most severe actors," said Mitchell.

Attorney Benjamin Taylor says murder cases can take many years, and prosecutors only get one shot.

"People are used to watching TV, and they see a whole case resolved in a one-hour TV show," said Taylor. "In real life, cases could take two, three or four years or more to get resolved."

Taylor also said legal slow motion can actually benefit a prosecutor.

"In cases like this, when you have a lot of suspects and defendants, a lot of times the suspect will flip on the others in order to get a better agreement to save their own life," said Taylor.

The case has been criticized from the start, with some alleging the suspects may be getting special treatment. Mitchell, however, insists she sees nothing suspicious, from the arrests to no cameras in the courtroom, and a trial date more than a year away, in July 2025.

"I did not see any sort of favoritism here," said Mitchell. "There was a lot going on behind the scenes. This was very complicated."