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Three men held in assault on EHT teen outside Pleasantville strip club

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Three men may not have been responsible for the death of a teen they allegedly attacked, but they remain a risk to the community, a judge found Wednesday.

Jamaul Timberlake, and brothers Garnell and John Hands are accused of attacking Irving Meyran-Guzman as he was escorted from the Centerfolds strip club on Jan. 23.

Meyran-Guzman, 19, was later found dead in the marsh down the road from the club.

The Handses and Timberlake have been jailed since then on charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy.

Since their original detention hearings, an autopsy determined Meyran-Guzman's death was accidental and that hypothermia and intoxication played a role, but not the alleged beating.

Surveillance video has also since been released to the defense.

Despite attorney Durann Neil's insistence that his client, Garnell Hands, only slapped the teen with an open hand and, at most, is guilty of a simple assault, the judge disagreed.

Judge Nancy Ridgway called it a "pummeling" and said the Garnell Hands' involving himself in the incident where the teen was being taken out by security was "disturbing."

John Hands' attorney, Matthew Portella, took issue with the word pummeling, and said his client landed three punches after his brother started the physical altercation.

"He could have stepped in and held his brother back," the judge said of John Hands. "He instead escalated the fight.

"His brother threw the first punch and then (John Hands) stepped in as a minion to complete the assault," she continued. "He then stayed there surrounding the victim while a third co-defendant (Timberlake) stepped in."

The judge also found a risk of witness tampering, saying it was obvious that the three alleged attackers knew the bar workers. She also said that video from inside the establishment after the incident, which was not shown in court, showed the three men and others discussing the attack and re-enacting it in what she called "mirthfully."

Neil disagreed with the judge's determination. He said he looks forward to going to trial and has not intention of accepting the state's current offer of six years with 85 percent under the No Early Release Act.

Portella indicated he would appeal the decision. He also said he would be looking to have his client apply to pre-trial intervention, which allows some first-time offenders to avoid prosecution if they meet certain criteria and complete a program.

Timberlake's attorney, John Stein, said he also would be looking to have his client entered into PTI.

But that may be more difficult in that instance.

He has a significant juvenile history, the prosecutor noted, including a carjacking and a sexual assault that has him required to register under Megan's Law.

Timberlake's attorney insisted that his crimes were 17 years old, when he was a child.

He asked the judge if the whole reason for juvenile incarceration wasn't to rehabilitate.

"That doesn't mean he's the person he was when he was a child," he said.

The judge noted that Timberlake was incarcerated for six of those 17 years.

All three men will now remain in the Atlantic County Justice Facility as their case goes through the courts.

Mayren-Guzman's supporters gathered outside the courthouse before the hearings, holding up signs demanding "Justice for Irving."

"It's been a really painful experience," said Mayren-Guzman's older brother, Eduardo Guzman, acknowledging that it also has been hard for the Hands and Timberlake families.

"He was so young," Guzman said of his little brother. "To just lose his life so suddenly and so abruptly, it's been painful. It's a very difficult process."

Monday, April 15, 2024
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