Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas judge characterized two California men as criminal predators as she denied them the chance for release from jail while they face murder and other charges in a series of robberies and shootings that left two people, including a Waipahu woman, dead during the New Year’s weekend.

“There’s no question these two defendants are a danger to the community,” Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia said after hearing three detectives testify about the arrests of Jesani Carter, 20, and Jordan Ruby, 18. Both remain held without bail at the Clark County jail.

Clarice Yamaguchi

Carter, who wore his hair in blond-tipped dreadlock braids before his arrest, had his hair cut short before his court appearance.

The two men were arrested Dec. 31, hours before a Las Vegas Strip fireworks show that tourism officials planned for hundreds of thousands of New Year’s revelers.

“They came to town on the busiest weekend of the year to terrorize the community, to terrorize tourists,” the judge said.

Neither Carter nor Ruby has entered a plea to charges that were expanded Monday from three to 13 felony counts also including attempted murder, robbery with a weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery.

A preliminary hearing of evidence is scheduled Feb. 10.

Prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo has said the case may be considered for the death penalty.

Attorneys for Carter and Ruby declined outside court to comment on their behalf or provide their clients’ California hometowns. Carter’s family members who attended the bail hearing declined to speak with a reporter.

Clarice Yamaguchi, 66, of Waipahu was killed Dec. 31 in an afternoon purse-snatch-turned-shooting as her husband struggled with her assailant in a parking garage at the Fashion Show mall, police said.

These Dec. 31 photos released by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department show murder suspects Jordan Ruby (left), 18, and Jesani Carter, 20, at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Police via AP)
 

Less than five hours later, Hyo Sup “Richard” Um, 60, was shot and killed on the third floor of the parking structure at Palace Station, police said. Um’s hometown was not immediately known, the Clark County coroner said.

A police detective testified Monday that Um was seen on security video gambling at Palace Station before he was killed, and his wallet was not found with his body.

Detectives described security camera images and witnesses who linked Carter and Ruby with a silver BMW sedan with a temporary California license tag seen at armed robberies also at parking structures for the Wynn resort on Dec. 30 and Sahara hotel-casino on Dec. 31.

DiGiacomo alleged the two defendants “came to Las Vegas for the purpose of robbing people on New Year’s.”

The judge acknowledged receiving messages from people in Hawaii about Yamaguchi and the bail hearing, but said she left them unread until they could be shared with prosecutors and defense attorneys. The messages were made part of the evidence cache in the case.

Police said Carter and Ruby also tried to rob an employee at the Sahara who said a gunman grabbed his backpack and fired a shot as the employee ran toward an elevator. That man was not hit by gunfire.

Um’s killing in the Palace Station parking area came on a different parking level and minutes after a woman was confronted by a man who took her belongings at gunpoint but returned them when she pleaded to be able to keep her phone and identification, Detective Tate Sanborn testified.

Carter and Ruby were arrested after parking a silver BMW sedan with a temporary California license tag at the Bally’s Las Vegas hotel-casino.

Sanborn said a search of the vehicle found a Glock 9 mm handgun with an extended magazine clip and checks belonging to a woman who had been robbed at gunpoint at the Wynn a day earlier. The gun matched a bullet casing found at the Sahara, Sanborn said.

DiGiacomo also played for the judge an audio clip from a jailhouse telephone call in which Ruby allegedly told a woman he was “the driver, not the shooter,” and that he “wanted to make some money (but) just did it the dumb way.”

“Justice for Clarice”

In Hawaii, Yamaguchi’s family is not only mourning her loss but also seeking help in obtaining justice for her.

“My heart hurts so much,” Cheryl Harimoto, Yamaguchi’s daughter, said in a statement to Hawaii News Now and other local media outlets. “My life will never be the same. She was not only my mom but also my best friend. I miss her so much. We all do. She was loved by so many people.

“Thank you so much for the love and support from everyone at home and in Las Vegas. It has been really hard. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelmingly amazing. We appreciate everybody’s prayers, we feel the love.

“My mom would not like any of this attention. But if it was different, she would be the first one to help. I want to fight for her. I will do whatever I can to fight for her.”

The family asked the public to send messages to the judge via justiceforclarice@gmail.com by Jan. 7 to prevent the suspects from being released.

A friend of Harimoto posted on Facebook, “Clarice was the mother of one of our dearest friends … She was known to be the sweetest wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, and co-worker to everyone that knew her. She was always so kind, sweet, and generous and spent many of her weekends enjoying time shopping, and supporting her three grandchildren’s many extracurricular activities; such as dance and music recitals, baseball, soccer, and cheer competitions. She also enjoyed spoiling the family with many Aulani staycations.

“The family is seeking justice and the future safety of others by sending letters to the judge asking her not to allow the individuals that took Clarice’s life by a senseless act of violence to be let free on bail. The letters can include how loved Clarice was and how much she will be deeply missed …

“Thank you to all the friends and family who have been reaching out to send their condolences, words of comfort, and support to the family! It is very much appreciated.”

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