Bail $1.1 million each for twin brothers in fatal beating of Fresno good Samaritan

The Fresno BeeJuly 7, 2014 

Twin brothers Jared Smith, left, and Gerald Smith, 18, are accused in the fatal beating of a man who had come to the aid of woman who police said had been attacked by the brothers in Fresno on June 30.

A judge on Tuesday set bail for twin brothers charged with murdering a good Samaritan bicyclist in central Fresno at $1.1 million each.

Gerald and Jared Smith, 18, appeared subdued during their first court appearance before Judge Jonathan Skiles, with one holding his head in his hands. Their attorney, Daljit Rakkar, said the Smiths are "scared and a little uneasy about what's being said about them."

Tuesday's arraignment hearing was continued until July 23.

The Smiths are accused of a beating that led to the death of Nathan Halsted, 49, as well as an assault on a woman in the early morning hours near Belmont Avenue and Calaveras Street on June 30. Police say Halsted was left stunned in the street after the beating and was killed when he was run over by a driver who did not see him.

In a news conference last week, police Chief Jerry Dyer referred to a police surveillance video in which two men appeared to kick, stomp and punch Halsted in a beating that went on for several minutes; Dyer said the attackers were like "animals pursuing prey."

Tuesday, Rakkar challenged the video's effectiveness as evidence, saying it was dark and grainy and that it would be hard to establish the attackers were his defendants. The attorney also left open the possibility that he would not defend both brothers because of the complexity of the case.

Police initially believed that Halsted died when he was struck by a car while riding on Belmont but later determined that he had come across the beating of a woman at a gas station at the corner of Belmont and Calaveras. The video shows a bicyclist riding toward the attackers, who then turned on him.

The woman managed to flee. Police say two other Samaritans, a pedestrian and a motorist, tried to stop the beating of Halsted, but were driven off by the attackers.

Court records show that Gerald Smith has no prior criminal record as an adult. Jared Smith pleaded no contest June 3 to felony corporal injury to a child and no contest to misdemeanor corporal injury to a cohabitant. The date of violation was May 17.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6339, jguy@fresnobee.com or @jimguy27 on Twitter.

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