Friday, April 11, 2008

Bail set for teens charged in Lakeland cheerleader beating

Amy L Edwards

Sentinel Staff Writer

3:16 PM EDT, April 11, 2008


During an appearance in adult court, a judge today set bail for the teenagers charged with beating a Lakeland cheerleader.

Each was held on at least $30,000 bond.

Prosecutors had decided on Thursday to charge seven Polk County teens -- accused of pummeling a 16-year-old and videotaping it for YouTube and MySpace -- as adults. An eighth teen is 18 years old and already is considered an adult under the law.

Today's appearance was held in a small courtroom at the Central County Jail in Bartow and shown on a live video feed to a judge in her courtroom.

During the session, none of the teenagers spoke, although they showed a range of emotions from being upset to laughing and giggling. During her part of the hearing, Brittany Mayes, who faces a kidnapping charge which is punishable by up to life in prison, tilted her head with a somber expression on her face. She also faces charges of battery and tampering with a witness.

All eight face charges of battery and kidnapping, punishable by up to life in prison. They are Mercades Nichols, 17; April Cooper, 14; Brittni Hardcastle, 17; Kayla Hassell, 15; Brittany Mayes, 17; Cara Murphy, 16; Zachary Ashley, 17; and Stephen Schumaker, 18.

Nichols, Hardcastle and Mayes face an additional charge of tampering with a witness, which carries up to a five-year prison term.

All of the teens are from Lakeland except Hassell, who is from Mulberry.

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